Sweet sound of music for Garcia?

Updated: July 2, 2004, 9:44 AM ET
By David Aldridge | Special to ESPN.com

The K factor
Shaquille O'Neal
Mike Krzyzewski has a military (school) background and a sparkling resume, which means he should have plenty to impress Shaquille O'Neal. Except that O'Neal still doesn't want to play for him.

It's not because Shaq has anything against Coach K. Shaq simply sees his possible hiring as yet another slight, another concession the Lakers have made to Kobe Bryant without Shaq's consultation.

With the belief spreading that Krzyzewski is Bryant's hand-picked choice to replace Phil Jackson, Shaq may be even more determined to force a trade, insulted by the appearance of another player on his team being allowed to make all the decisions.

Problem is, a Shaq trade is even tougher now than it was when the week began, after the Mavericks lost free-agent point guard Steve Nash to Phoenix without compensation. Dallas and Sacramento are widely considered the only feasible destinations for O'Neal, but the Mavs, without Nash, suddenly don't have a spare star to build a trade package around.

The Lakers are insisting on receiving Dirk Nowitzki in any deal that sends Shaq to Dallas. The Mavericks insist they won't trade Nowitzki and were hoping to involve Nash in a sign-and-trade deal with Golden State that would route Warriors free-agent center Erick Dampier to L.A. as Shaq's replacement. That seems impossible now without Nash, and even if the Mavericks were suddenly willing to part with Nowitzki, O'Neal would probably hesistate to commit to a Dallas team without Nowitzki or Nash.

If obstacles keeping cropping up at their current rate, convincing the Lakers to move Shaq could prove as challenging as the Lakers' quest to lure Coach K away from his Duke empire.

-- Marc Stein
Alex Garcia, Hornets: He was on the Spurs' roster all season, but couldn't stay healthy. If he had, he may have solved their season-long problems at backup point. San Antonio tried to keep him but New Orleans scarfed him off of waivers. Keep an eye on him if he sticks with the Hornets; if not, the Jazz should be interested.

Bobby Simmons, Clippers: Learned a lot the last two seasons, one with Michael Jordan in Washington, the other as a rotation guy in L.A. He's become much better putting the ball on the floor and finishing and has improved a suspect jumper, too. It could be time for Chicago native Simmons to have a tearful reunion in the Windy City -- especially if the Bulls can trade Eddie Robinson.

Tremaine Fowlkes, Pistons: A D-League veteran, Fowlkes did solid work early in the season defensively for Detroit, including a strong night against Bryant and the Lakers. Didn't make the postseason roster but he worked his tail off every day with the Pistons' strength coach and assistants. Another guy that is better than any of the restricted free agents Charlotte took in the expansion draft.

*Chris Andersen, Nuggets: Has a range of about three feet. The next play Denver runs for him will be his first. But Anderson is a freak, and we're not just talking about the spiky hairdos he sports on occasion. Stick ups and shot-blocking skill make the 7-footer someone worth investing in. He's another guy that could step right in and start for the Hawks.

*Denotes restricted free agent; current team has the right to match any offer made to the player and retain his services.

David Aldridge, who covers the NBA for ESPN, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. Also, click here for Aldridge's chat on July 1, the start of free agency.