Posts Tagged ‘Peyton Manning’

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 181) dollars and sense

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Go ahead and scan the top 10 players on the salary list of your favorite sport and ask yourself, who belongs and who does not?

In the NFL it’s easy to spot the impostors (you know who you are .., Jay Cutler, Matt Ryan and others) the guys who have collected $100 million contracts without so much as changing the culture in their respective locker rooms, let alone the franchise that lavished those sorts of riches upon them,

The NBA’s top 10 is a much tougher list to decipher. Kobe Bryant, the third leading scorer in the history of the game, sits atop the list. And even though he’s playing on a woeful Los Angeles Lakers team this season, few can argue that he’s worth the what he’s being paid based on the box office draw he is at home in LA and everywhere else he goes.

Dollars and sense is the topic on Episode 181 of the Hang Time Podcast, who and what makes sense and at what price? We also dig into the Sacramento Kings’ firing of Mike Malone and what that means for the immediate and long-term future of the franchise.

We go off the rails early and often, like always, on Episode 181 of the Hang Time Podcast … Dollars and Sense …

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the new best sound designer/engineer in the business,  Andrew Merriam.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

VIDEO: Kobe Bryant’s career milestones

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 177) Real or Fake?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You are what your record says you are.

That’s the way I was taught.

But in the NBA it’s just not that simple.

In San Antonio this time every year, the Spurs are whatever Gregg Popovich wants them to be. In Los Angeles, the Lakers are exactly who we thought they were while the Clippers certainly are not.

Cleveland is a work in progress.

But what about this upstart crew in Sacramento?

And Toronto?

Or Chicago, Miami, New York, Portland, Brooklyn and elsewhere?

Houston and Golden State certainly look like they are legitimate.

But doesn’t anyone really know for sure after just seven or eight games for most teams. Toss in all of the injuries in places like Oklahoma City and Indiana, and there is even more early season mystery about this NBA season.

In an effort to solve all of these mysteries we’ve embarked upon a round of real or fake(?) on Episode 177 of The Hang Time Podcast … (where we also say goodbye to a member of the HTP family) …

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best sound designer/engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

24-second thoughts — May 5

By Sekou Smith, NBA.com


VIDEO: John Wall and Bradley Beal had their way with the Pacers in Game 1

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The first round of the NBA playoff could not possibly be topped by the conference semifinals, not after all of the fantastic and dramatic action we witnessed the past two weeks.

Well, a man can dream can’t he?

Game 1 — Wizards @ Pacers

24  If this was a track meet, the Pacers shouldn’t even take their sweats off …

23 – Pacers starting this one the way they played most of the first six games against the Atlanta Hawks in the first round … and then cranked it up, temporarily, like it was Game 7 …

22 – Tired? Haha. Never!

21 – It’s a fair question at this point. Do the Pacers look like the title contenders we thought they were at 33-8?

20 – Deep down, I’d have loved to rock that wicked get up Serge Ibaka wore into the arena tonight, hat and all, to my 8th grade dance. Oh and Russ Westbrook is on his own, too …

19 – Just Say No to some photo shoots!

18 – It’s not just me raving about the Wizards’ young backcourt duo. Even Hall of Famer Gary “Mr. The Game Is Too Soft These Days” Payton had to give it up to the youngsters …

17 – What he said …

16 – Some things you know are just wrong and cruel and aw, forget it!

15 – Hawks guard Jeff Teague said it best …

14 – It’s like the Rude Boys and the late great Gerald Levert said back in the day, for the Pacers it’s “Written all over your face!”

13 — Welcome to the club Randy Wittman. The Wizards coach joins Pat Riley (first 5 with the 1982 Lakers) and Mike Dunleavy (first 4 with the 1991 Lakers) as the only coaches to win their first four road playoff games. Not bad for a guy who has been on the hot seat in Washington forever.

Wizards snatch home court, for the second straight series,  just like that!

Game 1. #Clippers #Thunder

A photo posted by Arash Markazi (@arashmarkazi) on

Game 2 Clippers @ Thunder

12 – Chris Paul silences his haters early with 17 points in the first quarter and a 5-for-5 effort from deep … en fuego!!!!!!!!

11 – Straight from the Silver Linings Playbook …

10 – I realize this is a totally inappropriate time and place to bring this up, but can they not find a sleeve for Blake Griffin’s monstrous right elbow? Padded. Because it could easily be used as a weapon if he was the sort of cat who didn’t mind skirting the edge of fair play during a game. #justasking

9 – Clippers running a clinic on the Thunder early. One team with a Game 7 hangover … and it’s not the crew that had to board a plane to get to this game …

8 – Thunder raising the white flag early with Kevin Durant guarding Chris Paul 30-feet away from the basket. Seriously, this is not a recipe for success Scott Brooks! Meanwhile, comedian Kevin Hart has already tapped out the Inside Crew with this one …


VIDEO: Kevin Hart is spot on with his take on TNT’s Inside crew

7 – Clippers’ flow on the road is on another level tonight. You need the right quarterback to do this on the road …

6 – Still no news on that Knicks coaching search …

5 – CP3 is in silly mode now. A ridiculous 8-for-8 from deep as the Clippers keep piling on the Thunder. He’s going to miss at some point, just maybe not tonight …

4 – How are you going to see the comeback if you head for the exits before the game actually ends?

3 – The Chris Paul Show ended a bit early, but he was every bit as good as it looked. Thurman Thomas on Tecmo Bowl good!

2 – The Clippers indeed started this season as one of the deepest teams in the league on paper, Metta. But the Knicks? C’mon man ,,,

1 – Clippers dish out the worst home loss the Thunder have suffered since moving to Oklahoma City from Seattle. Ouch! Masterful effort from CP3 (32, 8-for-9 from deep, and eight assists) and others. Spectacular work from Doc Rivers. A Hall of Famer says so …


VIDEO: Just one of the many highlights from The Chris Paul Show Monday night in Oklahoma City

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 146) Featuring Pacers Guard Lance Stephenson

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Now that we have that pesky Super Bowl behind us (especially you Peyton Manning) we can move on to the more important business of 2014, and that’s analyzing the NBA landscape after the first half of the season.

Some of our preseason predictions don’t look nearly as good now as they did in theory … months ago. Some of the teams we assumed would dominate the conversation are doing it for all of the wrong reasons, while the pleasant surprises have been plenty. No individual has surprised us more than enigmatic Pacers swingman Lance Stephenson.

We take all that in and serve it up on Episode 146 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Indiana Pacers’ swingman Lance Stephenson, whose omission from the Eastern Conference All-Star reserves list remains a sore spot with us here at the headquarters.

The Golden State Warriors have been added to the “List” and we delve into what’s gone wrong with Steph Curry and crew since they returned from that spectacular road trip last month. We tried our best to make some sense of what the Los Angeles lakers are trying to do with Pau Gasol and discuss a host of other hot topics from around the league.

Check out our new segment, In Focus, featuring some of the best TV and radio calls from around the league, and the latest installment of Braggin’ Rights (still on top), as well.

Check it out on Episode 146 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Lance Stephenson.

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of NBA.com’s All-Ball Blog and renaissance man Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.


VIDEO: Pacers swingman Lance Stepheons gives up his body for the job

MVP Ladder: Good Luck Catching KD!



VIDEO: Good luck trying to catch Kevin Durant on or off the court this season

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Is it too soon to declare this race over?

If Kevin Durant keeps it up, someone better find that checkered flag because no one will catch the Oklahoma City Thunder star on the KIA Race to the MVP Ladder. And that includes Miami Heat star LeBron James, who like the rest of us has admitted to marveling at Durant’s exploits this season.

Durant has already established himself as the most diabolical scorer of his generation, an absolute assassin capable of destroying opposing defenses from basically anywhere on the floor. But his current run of nine straight games with at least 30 points, not to mention his preposterous 37.0 scoring average for the month of January, has helped vault him into the all-time great category alongside the likes of James, Kobe Bryant, Kareem Abdul- Jabbar, Nate Archibald and Oscar Robertson.

His coach, Scott Brooks, has even crossed sporting lines by comparing him to an all-time great from the NFL.

“Kevin Durant, Peyton Manning,” Brooks said Tuesday night. “You just look at the parallels between the two. They just come in, they do their job every day. They don’t have to tell the world what they do, they just do it every day and it seems to work perfectly fine.”

It certainly does!

Dive in here for more on who made the cut on this week’s KIA Race To The MVP Ladder!


VIDEO: The Inside crew on the current state of the MVP race

Brooks Equates KD’s Work Ethic To Denver Broncos QB Manning’s


VIDEO: Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman joins GameTime to discuss Durant’s hot streak

HANG TIME SOUTHWEST – Thunder coach Scott Brooks marvels at the barrage of points, the evolution of the pinpoint passes and all that Kevin Durant does on a basketball court in front of 18,000 people 82 nights a year.

Mostly though, he finds himself blown away by Durant on those days in between, in the gym, working, relentless. No crowds going bananas, no flashing bulbs, no glory. Only guts.

This is when Brooks equates Durant with a certain Super Bowl quarterback.

“Kevin Durant, Peyton Manning,” Brooks said Tuesday night. “You just look at the parallels between the two. They just come in, they do their job every day. They don’t have to tell the world what they do, they just do it every day and it seems to work perfectly fine.”

Durant is the Thunder’s tone-setter on game day and especially so on so-called “off” days.

“I’m just having fun out there,” Durant said Tuesday night after dropping 46 points on the Trail Blazers. He followed up Wednesday night with 36 in a road win over the Spurs. “It’s a player’s game, so every moment I’m on the court is fun for me.”

Lately it’s been a barrel of laughs. Durant has now gone nine consecutive games scoring 30 points or more, a career-best stretch. During the Thunder’s five-game win streak — victories over Golden State, Houston, Sacramento, Portland and now San Antonio — Durant’s all-around dominance borders on mind-boggling: 40.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg and 6.2 apg in 39.1 mpg. He is shooting 59.5 percent overall and 56.3 percent from beyond the arc (for the nitpickers, he’s coughing it up 6.0 times a game).

As Blazers coach Terry Stotts noted after Tuesday’s game, nothing about Durant’s game at the moment is forced. He isn’t ball-hogging. He isn’t chucking. He’s taking what’s given and delivering the entire package with supreme efficiency.

“Kevin, I say this all the time, he doesn’t want to be known as a scorer, and I give him a lot of credit for that,” Brooks said. “Some guys say that but they really, their moods are predicated on how many points they score the night before. Kevin’s not like that. He was equally as happy the next night [after scoring 54 points against Golden State last Friday] when he had nine assists [and 30 points against Sacramento on Sunday].”

Durant, a leading MVP candidate now averaging 31.0 ppg on the season, salted away Wednesday’s win at San Antonio with a pair of late 3s. He did the same thing the night before to bury the Blazers. He went 6-for-7 from deep in that one.

“When he’s shooting the ball well from 3, that opens up a lot for him,” said Nick Collison, Durant’s teammate back to the the franchise’s Seattle days. “He’s unguardable when he’s able to hit 3-point shots.”

After the final dagger against Portland, a straightaway swish, he looked toward a thunderous home bench and seemingly reluctantly, almost bashfully, uncorked a smile.

“You look to the bench and you see your teammates so happy for you, all I could do is smile because I know they’re genuinely happy for me and for the team,” Durant said. “It’s a great feeling just knowing you have a group of brothers out there supporting you no matter what. So that’s what I was smiling for.”

Durant and his team are on quite a roll following a rough patch immediately after the unexpected injury departure of All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. His projected return remains around the mid-February All-Star Game. While some might have predicted Oklahoma City to drop in the post-Christmas standings without Westbrook, the opposite has occurred: The Thunder sit atop the Western Conference.

They’re 10-5 during this Westbrook-less stretch. Wednesday’s win kicked off a tough seven-game stretch with six on the road. Just don’t expect Durant and Co. to easily crack.

“We just do our job every day,” Brooks said. “I tell our guys, the pressure is to play as hard as you can, play for your teammates. It’s not making shots, it’s not doing anything other; but if you play as hard as you can, play for your teammates, the pressure is that. We’ve always been a team that we just focus on doing our job every day.

“I think all the good teams do that in all sports. The great players do the same thing.”

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 113) Featuring Tim Grover and Dr. Thomas Best

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The end of one season parts the waters for the beginning of a new one every year this time in the NBA.

For some, the end can’t get here fast enough, while others will fight until the very end to be a part of the new season. For Kobe Bryant, his bittersweet ending to his 17th NBA season comes with loads of uncertainty.

Will the Los Angeles Lakers’ icon return to form after tearing his Achilles April12? Will he ever be the same? Is it reasonable for anyone to expect him to?

Instead of just asking the questions we sought out the experts for answers on Episode 113 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring legendary trainer Tim Grover, the man who has helped the likes of Kobe, Dwyane Wade and Michael Jordan before them, set the standard as the ultimate competitors in their field. We also picked the brain of Dr. Thomas Best, the Director of Sports Medicine Research at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, for some history and cold hard facts about what Kobe is facing from medical standpoint.

Grover’s already mapping out an extensive plan for Kobe to get back sooner rather than later and you can identify some of his strategies in his new book, “Relentless: From Good To Great To Unstoppable,” which highlights the training methods the greats have used to separate themselves from the pack.

We’ve also discuss our picks for MVP (LeBron James) and several other awards, debate whether or not Kevin Durant should have chased a fourth scoring title instead of handing this year’s trophy to Carmelo Anthony and handed out a little internal hardware of our own with the crowning of the regular season winner of Braggin’ Rights (and believe it or not, the rookie did it)!

Check out all of that and so much more on Episode 113 of the Hang Time Podcast featuring Tim Grover and Dr. Thomas Best.

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business,  Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Gay’s Gone, But Hollins Should Stay

HANG TIME, Texas – Yes, it was about the money.

The Grizzlies had given far too much of it to Rudy Gay, a guy who was sitting on the sidelines nursing a bad shoulder when they scratched out the only playoff series win in franchise history.

That’s not to say that Gay hasn’t been a nice player during his six-plus seasons in the NBA; the kind who could often fill up the basket and make it look easy.

But that was the trouble. The Grizzlies have carved out their place, if tenuous, in the upper half of the Western Conference. Like Tina Turner and her band: they never, ever do anything nice and easy.

Gay has been barely shooting 40 percent from the field this season, checking it at a myopic 31 percent from 3-point range. For a player taking such a big bite out of the payroll, Gay too often seemed to drift, which was the rap as far back as 2006 when he was drafted eighth overall out of UConn.

Now the Grizzlies get veteran Tayshaun Prince, who can knock down the 3s, play solid defense and do all of the dirty work/little things, if he’s still so inclined at 32. They also get Ed Davis’ ability to finish at the rim and a couple of contracts that are far more palatable.

In short, the Grizzlies saved themselves a bundle and in a roll-of-the-dice way may have gotten some answers for a team whose chances to reach the NBA Finals this season were probably closer to a scratch-off lottery ticket than money in the bank.

Now the question is whether they’ll do the right thing by coach Lionel Hollins, who’s been allowed to quack like a lame duck without a new contract all season.

While the new ownership group (which is led by Robert Pera and celebrity pals Justin Timberlake and Peyton Manning) and the management team (which includes stat guru John Hollinger) are clearly making their mark on the operation, it is Hollins who has already placed his stamp on the Grizzlies.

Yes, he’s often cranky and challenging. But those are the same attributes that describe the Grizzlies when they’re at their best. A lot of coaches talk about professionalism and accountability, Hollins demands it. He learned during his playing career from championship teams in Portland and Philadelphia that sacrifice and teamwork are not just to be valued, but expected.

Much was made of Hollins recent statement when he said: “We get hung up on statistics a little too much, and I think that’s a bad trait all over the league.”

Was it a shot at Hollinger and the new regime? Or simply Hollins being Hollins? Likely a little bit of both.

In the four years since Hollins has been on the Grizzlies bench, he has pushed, prodded, cajoled, driven and turned the quaint little franchise in the league’s smallest market that had never won a single playoff game into a “Grind House” team which Memphis could support. He did it by making the Grizzlies a reflection of his own personality, often flinty and contrarian.

This is Hollins’ team, even if they change pieces, because they share his DNA. You can’t have the “Grind House” without the head grinder.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 100) Featuring TNT’s Shaq, Kenny and Charles

hangtime-100-575-

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The centennial edition of The Hang Time Podcast was bound to be our biggest and best effort to date.

It had to be, given the star-studded guest list headlined by TNT’s Emmy Award-winning crew from The Inside set, masters Shaquille O’Neal, Kenny Smith and the Hall of Famer, Charles Barkley. With an opening assist from the great Ernie Johnson and a visit from the longtime radio voice of the Atlanta Hawks, Steve Holman, who was celebrating his 2,000 consecutive broadcast, we made sure to celebrate 100 right here at headquarters.

Dozens of current and former NBA players, current stars and living legends, have made appearances on the show in the first 100 episodes. We’ve talked to a little bit of everybody, from comedian extraordinaire Charlie Murphy to NBA Commissioner David Stern, Hollywood up-and-comer Genesis Rodriguez to comedic wiz Chelsea Peretti.

About the only guys we hadn’t spoken to yet were Shaq, Kenny and Charles … until now!

Listen in on Episode 100 of the Hang Time Podcast and party with us while we keep it 100!

(Big ups to Vince Thomas of The Shadow League, our former super producer Micah Hart for hatching the podcast with me from the start and the NBA TV and NBA Digital brain trust of Rusty Mintz, Tony Lamb, Steve “The Boss Man” Quintana, John Donovan, Kevin McCormack, Beau Estes our former intern Tori Carmen for helping nurse the show from its infancy into the full-blown ball of hoops chaos that we’ve grown into.)

LISTEN HERE:

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Sekou Smith of NBA.com,  Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Rick Fox of NBA TV, as well as our new super producer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Grizzlies Deserve Shot To Stay Together

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DALLAS – To quote Memphis Grizzlies defensive bulldog Tony Allen Saturday night: “This is the year.”

The Grizzlies love the makeup of their grizzled, veteran team and their chances to contend for the whole enchilada. And with a new ownership group in place led by young tech billionaire Robert Pera and flanked by glimmering, star-power partners like Justin Timberlake and Peyton Manning, again, to quote Allen: “The sky’s the limit for this team.”

At least it should be. Yet here we sit, still five weeks removed from the trade deadline and uncertainty is swallowing the Grizzlies whole, an inconvenient and unspoken truth (at least as a team) that at any moment the financial hammer can come crashing down on the this team.

Rumors persist that Memphis is shopping its highest-priced assets. Rudy Gay (owed $37.2 million over the next two seasons), Marc Gasol (owed $30.1 million over the next two seasons) and Zach Randolph (owed $34.3 million over the next two seasons), the roots of the Grizzlies’ four-year rise from obscurity, are all twisting in the trade winds as potential sell-offs to lessen the franchise’s financial burden under the new and less-forgiving collective-bargaining agreement.

“That’s what happens when you get new owners,” said Randolph, who plans to reside in Memphis during the offseasons even if he’s traded. “Mr. [Michael] Heisley (the Grizzlies’ previous owner), he had a vision of keeping us all together. He took care of all of us to build a team and try to win a championship. Now the new owner probably wants to do something different. But it’s a business.”

Even coach Lionel Hollins, the most successful coach in Grizzlies history, waits on an extension in the final season of his contract.

“Hopefully I’ll have this team the whole year, and if I don’t, I’ll coach other guys,” Hollins said. “If they don’t give me an extension, then I’ll decide what I’m going to do. I think our team has done well growing as a group each year and developing to the point this year where I feel we’re a legitimate contender. We’ve [been able] to play with [everybody] out of the top teams. That’s usually when you’re trying to get there, you win a lot of games, but you don’t do well against the contenders. You might win one or two, but we’ve been able to compete with every last one of them.”

The Grizzlies dropped to 24-11 Saturday night after never getting in gear against the struggling Dallas Mavericks one  night after securing a rugged overtime home win against the San Antonio Spurs. The Mavs, 104-83 winners, led by 18 in the first half and by 30 in the third quarter as the Grizzlies were gassed and never made a run.

Prior to the game, the Grizzlies, to a man, said they don’t discuss trade rumors in the locker room, on the team bus or anywhere.

“If we discuss it that means you think about it,” said Gay, the team’s leading scorer and its longest-tenured player now in his seventh season. “I’m not going to try to think about it. I’m just trying to win games.”

It’s the big secret that isn’t, the topic they don’t want to talk about, but will be asked of them at every stop.

“It’s tough knowing that this team has done so well and we’re having to go through trade rumors,” said point guard Mike Conley, whose under contract for another three seasons at a reasonable $26.1 million. “With the new CBA and all that, we were hoping we wouldn’t have to be in this situation. Here we are, all these rumors and speculation of what might happen, what could happen in the next few weeks until the trade deadline.

“I think it’s been kind of nice that guys haven’t it let it affect them. It can easily affect a team, but this team has done a great job of throwing it aside, saying we can’t control it and just go about our business.”

It wasn’t long ago when Marc’s brother, Pau Gasol, led the Grizzlies’ first three-season playoff surge after the move from Vancouver. Those games were played at a half-empty FedEx Forum. Memphis has made substantial strides in attendance from ranking 28th in the league in 2009-10 and averaging 13,485 a game, and routinely being outdrawn by the city’s first love, the Memphis Tigers who share the arena.

Through 18 home dates this season, the Grizzlies, 14-4 on their home floor, rank 18th in attendance, averaging 16,529.

The franchise’s new ownership group owes it to their growing number of fans, to the players that have grown together to become a contender and to Hollins, who has overseen the process, to stick with the program through this season.

“I think we’re one of the most well-rounded teams in the league,” Gay said. “I don’t think there’s a letdown at any position.”

After whatever happens in the postseason, then re-assess and re-package to fit a new financial model in the summer.

“I feel like we got the whole package,” said Randolph, who is having an All-Star-type season averaging 16.9 points and 12.0 rebounds. “Rudy on the wing, me and Marc down low, we got Mike Conley stepping up and playing great ball, we got T.A. [Allen], our defensive leader, so our starting five is as solid as any starting five in the league.

“You want to see us together because we’ve come a long way.”

No other contender in either conference faces such roster uncertainty at mid-season. It’s unfair, and if a shakeup occurs before the Feb. 21 trade deadline, there will be no excuse to feed the fans, and perhaps no way of ever knowing if this is indeed the year.

“That’s the NBA and one thing about that is anything can happen,” Gay said. “Other people are going to have different plans. You just have to take advantage of the time you have.”