Calling a T.O. on Utah's Miller time
If an L.A. homecoming didn't help, then why would a return to Utah benefit Andre Miller?
Editor's note: As part of "The Stein Line" every Monday, ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein gives his take on things in "Slams and Dunks."
Going after Miller certainly makes sense. The Jazz is one of the few clubs that might be able to make an offer rich enough that Clippers owner Donald T. Sterling will decline to match for the restricted free agent, since Sterling apparently is committed to matching any offer for Elton Brand.
Just remember that the pressure on the guy who has to slip into Stockton's short shorts, whether he's a Rick Majerus grad or not, is going to be intense. Miller is going to have to prove he can handle that better than he handled a lost season in Clipperdom.
Lakers over Spurs in six.
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Nets over Celtics in six.
Pistons over Sixers in seven.
Szczerbiak and Smith have the longest contracts on the Wolves' roster, making both prime targets for criticism when they don't give Kevin Garnett the support he needs, but Szczerbiak isn't going to be the All-Star seen last season without a set-up man like Terrell Brandon to help him get open looks.
Szczerbiak is notoriously limited when it comes to creating his own shots, but the Lakers' devotion to stopping him added to his struggles. The Wolves were wise to exploit the matchup that was considerably more favorable -- Troy Hudson vs. the Lakers' porous pick-and-roll defense -- but getting others involved was not one of Hudson's assignments.
In the Pacers' case, though, figure on Donnie Walsh pursuing other changes aggressively if Thomas and O'Neal are still together in Indy come fall. There's no way the Pacers can bring back the same team, especially since there's little chance any team will be trying to pry Ron Artest away.
Besides the ever-available Austin Croshere, Jamaal Tinsley and free agent-to-be Brad Miller are the most logical candidates for departure. Ron Mercer, entering the last year of his contract, will also draw trade interest because of his contract situation. As for Reggie Miller, given his playoff struggles, you'd like to think Uncle Reg will be reasonable in his contract demands to make all this at least somewhat less complicated.
Let's say two.