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January 25, 2010
On the Beat
Deserving All-Star Starter?

by John Perrotto

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Something just doesn’t feel right about Allen Iverson being voted as an All-Star Game starter by the fans.

The fans can certainly pick who they want to play in the Feb. 14 game at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. However, Iverson walked out on the Memphis Grizzles after three games because he wasn’t starting, then signed with the Philadelphia 76ers. While Iverson has played respectably with the 76ers, he has only played in 18 games and is averaging 16.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 32.8 minutes with a 106 Offensive Rating and a 114 Defensive Rating.

Iverson is no longer a premier player and some in the media have urged commissioner David Stern to overturn the vote and allow a more-deserving guard to move into the Eastern Conference’s lineup. Others have written that Iverson should do the right thing and decline the opportunity. However, Iverson says he is flattered by the support and has no intention of giving up the honor.

“For them to vote me in being that I only played 20 games says a lot about them appreciating what I do on the basketball court,” Iverson said. “Without the fans, there would be no us. I really think I will participate. What should I do? Worry about those people who don’t think I should be there or what a million-plus people say? To me, it’s a no-brainer.”

The Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade will be the Eastern Conference’s other starting guard and he does not have a problem with Iverson being his backcourt mate.

“I would never say anything about who the fans love,” Wade said. “He's done something to get to that point where they love him no matter what and that's a testament to him.”

Memphis Looking to Deal

Grizzles general manager Chris Wallace is looking to make a deal before the Feb. 18 trading deadline as he would like to upgrade the bench in hopes of bolstering what is shaping up to be a surprise run at the playoffs by his young team. The Grizzlies have three first-round picks in the draft, so he has something to entice fellow GMs.

“I'm not looking for anyone in particular, just someone who can help,” Wallace said. "Our bench has gotten better as the year has progressed, but if we can find someone who is a fit, we'll make the deal. But we don't have to make a deal just for the sake of making a deal.”

The Grizzlies reportedly have their eye on Utah Jazz guard Ronnie Brewer, who makes $2.7 million this season and becomes a restricted free agent in the summer.

The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to look for help on the frontline and their latest target is said to be Indiana Pacers forward Troy Murphy. The Cavaliers continue to have interest in Washington Wizards forward Antawn Jamison but do not want to give up forward J.J. Hickson in a trade.

The Dallas Mavericks are looking for another shooter and reportedly have asked the Sacramento Kings about struggling Kevin Martin, who could be expendable with the emergence of rookie Tyreke Evans. Forward Josh Howard is supposedly the Mavericks’ trade bait.

The Milwaukee Bucks have made forward Joe Alexander very much available but he would likely only interest a rebuilding team. Alexander has barely played since the Bucks selected him with the eighth overall pick in the 2008 draft. He was demoted to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the D-League last week after missing all season with a torn hamstring.

Brooks Impressing in First Full Year

Scott Brooks is shaping up as a strong contender for NBA Coach of the Year. The Oklahoma City Thunder is 24-20 just a year after going 23-59.

Brooks was named interim coach 13 games into last season after P.J. Carlesimo was fired. The Thunder was 1-12 when Brooks took over and dropped to 3-29 at one point before finishing with 20 victories in their last 50 games.

Brooks has justified GM Sam Presti’s decision to give him the job on a full-time basis rather than going after a coach with a bigger reputation.

“Scott and his staff have done a really good job,” Thunder GM Sam Presti said. “They've really brought a focus to the group in certain areas. We're trying to establish a foundation, not just to win the game the next day but also one that can be built upon and he brings an energy and passion to the floor. As I said when we made his hiring official, he coaches the vision of the organization and he's done a good job with the group. I know because we have great communication and speak on a daily basis that he wants to improve as well. He wants the team to continue to take steps together, he's focused on that and I know the rest of the staff is as well.”

Cleveland Sweeps Possible Finals Matchup

You don’t need to have knows the ins and outs of trigonometry or the definition of Bolean algebra to understand the Cavaliers and L.A. Lakers have to be considered the favorites to meet in this year’s Finals. The Cavaliers’ 34-11 record is the best in the Eastern Conference and the Lakers’ 33-11 mark tops the Western Conference.

The Cavaliers’ 93-87 victory over the Lakers at Quicken Loans Arena last Thursday night seemed to raise the perception that they are capable of knocking off the defending champions in a Finals showdown. Cleveland also whipped the Lakers 102-87 on Christmas Day at the Staples Center. The fact that the Cavaliers swept the season series certainly got the attention of Lakers superstar guard Kobe Bryant.

“Last year, we were probably a little hungrier and played a little harder,” Bryant said.. “This year, they were the hungrier team. They've sensed that they want to win a championship and want to go after it, so they're playing with a sense of urgency that we played with last year.”

However, the Cavaliers' resident superstar forward, LeBron James, is trying to contain his excitement.

“The championship still goes through LA,” James said. “No matter if you beat them four times in the regular season, you have to beat them in the Finals in order to take that trophy away from them.”

John Perrotto is an author of Basketball Prospectus. You can contact John by clicking here or click here to see John's other articles.

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<< Previous Article
Recapturing the Magic (01/22)
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On the Beat (01/18)
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On the Beat (01/28)
Next Article >>
Making the Picks (01/25)

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