Duty may call for Bibby more than Webber
Mike Bibby, not Chris Webber, is the more likely Sacramento King to play for Team USA.
Editor's note: As part of "The Stein Line" every Monday, senior NBA writer Marc Stein gives his take on things in "Slams and Dunks."
That's why Mike Bibby, not Webber, is said to be the most likely Sacramento King to make the next Team USA squad, which must qualify for the Olympics in regional qualifying in August. Provided Bibby returns from foot surgery resembling the Bibby who tormented the Mavericks and Lakers in last spring's playoffs, he has a good shot at a guard spot.
USA Basketball, in fact, tried to land Bibby as a last-minute replacement for Ray Allen for the team that slumped to sixth place at the World Championships in Indianapolis, but Bibby declined, citing the short notice.
Bradley, over the past five games, has averaged only 5.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 blocks in 21.4 minutes. Not that his bosses or Mavericks fans are complaining. They fell one win shy of a record-tying 15-0 start, true, but Dallas die-hards don't have to dig too far into the recesses of their memories to recall the team that went 13-69 in 1993-94. That team included Jim Jackson ... and Jamal Mashburn ... and Popeye Jones, who's in his second Mavs stint now. It was even worse the year before: 11-71 in 1992-93, Jackson's holdout-marred rookie season.
Moral of the story: Dallas can live with a 14-0 start and another ride on the Bradley roller-coaster. Mainly because the center with the flagpole frame definitely did contribute to staking the Mavs to a six-game cushion in the loss column over everyone else in the Midwest Division.
Jackson's long-term prospects in Sacto wouldn't appear to be especially good, once Turkoglu (wrist) and Peja Stojakovic (heel) return to full health, but a productive stint with a team as highly regarded as Sacramento would be more valuable for the 32-year-old than the pro-rated veteran minimum salary of $1.03 million. Jackson's solid work for Pat Riley in Miami last season (10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game) apparently wasn't sufficiently enticing to land him a job with a contender to start the season.
As we speak, there isn't a single player available in the $4.5 million-and-under range who can make New York's plight less frightful than it already is. Stand pat, Scott Layden. Anything that interferes with the Knicks getting younger or getting to the lottery is yet another expensive mistake.
Marc Stein is the senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. To e-mail him, click here.
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