Playoff coaches on the hot seat

By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
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The coaching massacre of 2003-04 is showing no signs of letting up. In the span of less than a year, GMs have systematically wiped out a staggering 17 coaches, including 14 in the Eastern Conference.

With the regular season behind us, several lottery coaches, including Kevin O'Neill, Eric Musselman, Terry Stotts, Chris Ford and Nate McMillan, are in big trouble. Portland's Maurice Cheeks also looks like he's getting pushed to resign and take the Sixers' job. If Stotts goes, as rumored, every coach in the Eastern Conference will have resigned or been fired in the span of a year.

The madness knows no bounds. Even playoff coaches must sweat it. Last year, Rick Carlisle was fired despite leading the Pistons to the Eastern Conference Finals. Byron Scott was fired midway through this season despite leading the Nets to consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals.

Landing in the lottery still is the quickest way to get kicked to the curb, but these days even playoff coaches have to watch their backs. In fact, of the 16 coaches who guided their teams to the playoffs last season, nine either lost their jobs or resigned.

That's not very good odds for this year's group. While a few coaches, like Memphis' Hubie Brown, will have their jobs for as long as they want them, a number of coaches in the playoffs are under some pretty serious pressure as the postseason gets under way.

Here's a look at who's going to be coaching on the hot seat this postseason.

Jeff Bzdelik, Nuggets: Bzdelik is in the most trouble, despite leading Denver to one of the best improvements in NBA history. While everyone agrees Bzdelik has been a master motivator and one of the most-prepared coaches in the league, there's a reason why the Nuggets haven't signed him to an extension just yet.


Despite Carmelo Anthony's endorsement, Jeff Bzdelik's job is in serious jeopardy.
The front office has been concerned that Bzdelik abandoned the development stage of the team in pursuit of a playoff berth. Two top young building blocks -- Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Rodney White -- were given limited playing time this season, despite a feeling in the front office that the development of young players was a higher priority this season than a playoff berth.

The other problem is that Bzdelik's slow-down, grind-it-out style of coaching is at odds with the team Kiki Vandeweghe is building in Denver. Vandeweghe wants the Nuggets to run and take advantage of the mile-high thin air. He's given Bzdelik a number of players perfectly suited to do just that. When the Nuggets have run, they've usually won. However, Bzdelik hasn't completely embraced the system.

That doesn't mean he'll be fired, however. Star rookie Carmelo Anthony came out in support of Bzdelik after the team made the playoffs, and Bzdelik still has one year, at $1.5 million, left on his contract. Bzdelik's fretting in the press about an extension hasn't helped the situation, but it has had an important effect -- he has garnered enormous sympathy. Will it be enough to save his neck?

Don Nelson, Mavericks: Mark Cuban is spending a lot of money to make the Mavs into contenders, but it seems like they've taken a major step backwards this season. Cuban is finding out, much like his billionaire friend Paul Allen did, that having the highest payroll and a slew of high-profile players doesn't guarantee success.

Nellie faced a near impossible task this season -- trying to figure out a way to integrate the games of Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley, Antoine Walker and Antawn Jamison. He has no one to blame but himself. It was Nellie who advocated the unusual lineup, and it was Nellie who failed to address the team's most glaring weakness -- a lack of toughness in the paint.

With that said, has Cuban now painted himself into a corner? Nellie has assembled a team that only he really can coach. Bringing in a high-profile guy like Pat Riley next year would be a joke. Finley is the only one of the Mavs' Big 5 who is a Riley-type player. Trades will be tough, because four of the Big 5 are max players, and the other one, Nash, is heading into free agency.

What's Cuban to do? The word around the league is Nellie and crew are gone if the Mavs lose to the Kings in the first round. Finding a guy able to pick up the pieces in Dallas is a different story altogether.

Phil Jackson, Lakers: Phil Jackson is not in danger of being fired. However, his contract expires this summer, and he hasn't made major headway toward an extension. With so much turmoil in L.A., is this the last year we'll see Jackson coaching the Lakers?

The answer could be yes, if the Lakers flounder in the first or second round. A disappointing loss could set in a motion a disastrous series of chain reactions. If a clearly troubled Kobe Bryant decides to bolt in free agency, two more free agents, Gary Payton and Karl Malone, may decide to walk with him. If that happens, look for Jackson to pack up and ride off into the sunset, leaving Mitch Kupchak and Shaq to clean up the rubble.

John Carroll, Celtics: He's a place holder for the guy Danny Ainge wants to install this summer. The word is that guy is former Suns and Sonics head coach Paul Westphal. Carroll defied Ainge to a certain extent by continuing to play veterans like Walter McCarty over rookies like Marcus Banks and Brandon Hunter.

Ainge thought the Celtics would wind up in the lottery with a nice, high draft pick. Instead, they're in the playoffs in what should be a losing cause against the Pacers. You can blame Carroll for much of this. He stuck with what Jim O'Brien was trying to do there, knowing his loyalty to O'Brien would be more likely to be rewarded down the road than his loyalty to Ainge. The bottom line in Boston is Ainge wants his own staff and wants his team to play an up-tempo, West Coast style of basketball next year. That's not Carroll's thing.


Flip Saunders is under enormous pressure to take the Wolves deep into the playoffs.
Flip Saunders, Timberwolves: I think Saunders is one of the most underrated coaches in the league. That being said, the Wolves have never won a playoff series, and the pressure on them is now enormous.

They have the best record in the West but face a terrifying lineup of Western Conference powerhouses. They should be able to get by Denver in Round 1. But after that, a second-round matchup vs. the Kings or Mavericks looms. If the Wolves stumble, will Kevin McHale finally lose his patience? He spent an awful lot of money last summer to put the team in a position to win it all.

Tim Floyd, Hornets: Poor Tim Floyd. After being chained to one of the worst teams in NBA history in Chicago, he finally got his big break when his hometown Hornets came calling last summer. After a sizzling start, things started to fall apart in New Orleans. Injuries and attitudes have contributed to a late-season slide that has put Floyd back into familiar territory -- the coaching hot seat.

Now, the Hornets are facing a tough first-round matchup against the red-hot Heat. If Miami knocks the Hornets out of the first round, changes are going to be made in New Orleans. There's already talk that GM Bob Bass might be gone. Others think that this group of Hornets has been together too long and changes need to be made. However, Floyd knows his neck is on the chopping block too. Given his messy tangos with history ... he's sweating like Barry Bonds at a drug test.

Rick Adelman, Kings: Adelman is in a situation similar to Saunders. He's done a great job in Sacramento and has never really gotten the credit he deserves. The Kings have had a major injury or two every year, and Adelman has always found a way to get the most out of his team. But is Adelman's time running out?

For most of the season, it was the Kings, not the Lakers, that looked like the team to beat in the West. A late-season slide that just so happened to coincide with the return of Chris Webber has everyone worried. If the Kings stumble early, will the Maloof brothers try to salvage their investment by bringing in another coach with a better defensive plan?

Lenny Wilkens, Knicks: This really has nothing to do with Wilkens and everything to do with Isiah Thomas. Wilkens hasn't done enough yet to lay a stranglehold on his job. It would take a pretty impressive playoff run to do that. A first-round exit is more likely. In which case, if Isiah wants the job ... Lenny's gone.

Hubie Brown, Grizzlies: Hubie Brown is in zero danger of losing his job. But, he's been saying all year that he may step down at the end of the season. Age and the endless grind of coaching in the NBA have worn him down. Jerry West and Brown both have one year left on their contracts. They'd love to make a move or two in free agency or trade (a big man or a star are top priority) and make a run at it one more time. Win or lose, the job West and Brown have done in Memphis has been masterful. Will they be able to keep it up?

Around the League

# Playoff-tology: Stunning. That's the only way to describe the last night in the NBA regular season. How in the world did the Bucks blow the chance at a fourth seed, home-court advantage in the first round, and the chance to face the Miami Heat (41 wins)? Instead, their shocking loss to the Raptors Wednesday night pushed them to a sixth seed, took away home-court advantage and gave them the honor of playing the Detroit Pistons (54 wins) in round one. One night to blow a whole season. Though I love the Heat, the Bucks had a real shot of defeating the them, especially if they had home court. They'll be steam rolled by the Pistons.

The Kings' loss to the Warriors was just as shocking. As it stood going into Wednesday's game, the Kings were one win away from securing the second seed in the West. They would've had to play the struggling Rockets in round one. Instead, they slip to fourth and are forced to face the Mavericks. The Mavs have been playing better, are a better rebounding team and have the fire power to knock out the Kings. While I still like the Kings in the matchup, it's going to be an entertaining seven-game series, I predict.

Since Friday is draft day . . . here's my quick picks for the playoffs.

Eastern Conference Round One: Pacers over Celtics in 5. Nets over Knicks in 6. Pistons over Bucks in 5. Heat over Hornets in 6.

Western Conference Round One: Timberwolves over Nuggets in 6. Lakers over Rockets in 6. Spurs over Grizzlies in 6. Kings over Mavericks in 7.

Eastern Conference Round Two: Pacers over Heat in 6. Pistons over Nets in 6.

Western Conference Round Two: Kings over Timberwolves in 7. Lakers over Spurs in 7.

Eastern Conference Finals: Pistons over Pacers in 7.

Western Conference Finals: Lakers over Kings in 7.

Finals: Lakers over Pistons in 7.

I know I've been saying the Kings all season . . . but the funk that they're in is downright scary. They can't seem to figure out how to use Chris Webber. Meanwhile, I believe the Lakers, despite all of the turmoil, will focus in the playoffs. The only other thing I'll say is that I believe that either the Pistons or Pacers will have a real chance in the Finals this year. It's really a toss-up between those two. If the Pistons or Pacers get the Wolves or Kings in the Finals, I think they would have a great shot to win a championship this year.

# Back Draft: The last day of the season also made significant impact on the other big NBA race -- the quest for more lottery balls.

The Suns' defeat of the Jazz on Wednesday pushed them back fairly seriously in a three-way race for the fourth-most lottery balls. The Suns would've had a 9.1 percent chance at the No. 1 pick with a loss on Wednesday. Instead, they slip to 6.4 percent.

The Hawks and Clippers both finished tied for fourth and will split 209 lottery balls. A coin flip will determine who gets 10.5 percent and who gets 10.4 percent.

The Raptors' win over the Bucks, combined with a Sixers loss on Wednesday, also made an impact. The two now split the balls for seventh place. The league will hold a coin flip in the next week or so to determine who gets 37 balls (or 3.7 percent) and who gets 36 balls (or 3.6 percent). Had the Raptors won, they would've had a 4.4 percent chance of winning the lottery and the Sixers would've had a 2.9 percent.

The Warriors' win on Wednesday also hurt their standing. They finished tied with the Sonics and will split 18 lottery balls (or. 9 percent).

A few other draft situations were cleared up on Wednesday.

# The Knicks will send the No. 16 pick in the draft (via Phoenix) to Jazz to fufill terms from the Stephon Marbury trade in December. The Suns sent the pick along to Utah as part of the Tom Gugliotta trade in February.

# The Bucks will send the No. 17 or No. 18 pick in the draft (via Detroit) to the Hawks to fulfill terms from the Rasheed Wallace trade in February. The Bucks finished in a tie with the Hornets and draft order will be determined by a coin flip.

# The Rockets will send the No. 21 pick in the draft to the Jazz to fulfill terms of the Glen Rice trade last summer.

# The Grizzlies will send the No. 23 pick in the draft to the Blazers to fulfill terms of the Bonzi Wells trade last fall.

# The Mavericks will send the No. 24 pick in the draft to the Celtics to fulfill terms of the Antoine Walker trade last fall.

# The Pistons will send the No. 25 pick in the draft to the Celtics to fulfill terms of the Chuck Atkins trade in February.

Here's a look at how the entire first round will play out.

1. Orlando Magic (25 percent chance)
2. Chicago Bulls (20 percent chance)
3. Washington Wizards (15.7 percent chance)
4. Charlotte Bobcats (locked in at No. 4)
5. (tie) Atlanta Hawks (10.5 percent chance)
5. (tie) L.A. Clippers (10.4 percent chance)
7. Phoenix Suns (6.4 percent chance)
8. (tie) Toronto Raptors (3.7 percent chance)
8. (tie) Philadelphia 76ers (3.6 percent chance)
10. Cleveland Cavaliers (1.8 percent chance)
11. (tie) Golden State Warriors (.9 percent chance)
11. (tie) Seattle SuperSonics (.9 percent chance)
13. Portland Trail Blazers (.6 percent chance)
14. Utah Jazz (.5 percent chance)
15. Boston Celtics
16. Utah Jazz (via Knicks)
17. (tie) Atlanta Hawks (via Bucks)
17. (tie) New Orleans Hornets
19. Miami Heat
20. Denver Nuggets
21. Utah Jazz (via Rockets)
22. New Jersey Nets
23. Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies)
24. Boston Celtics (via Mavericks)
25. Boston Celtics (via Pistons)
26. Sacramento Kings
27. L.A. Lakers
28. San Antonio Spurs
29. Indiana Pacers

Note: The Timberwolves must forfeit their pick this year as part of the punishment for the Joe Smith fiasco.

# T-Mac on the block? New Magic GM John Weisbrod pulled a stunner on Wednesday when he issued an ultimatum to Tracy McGrady -- before talking to T-Mac about it.


Tracy McGrady
Shooting Guard
Orlando Magic
Profile


2003-2004 SEASON STATISTICS
GM PPG RPG APG FG% FT%
67 28.0 6.0 5.5 .417 .796

T-Mac has an opt out in his contract after the 2004-05 season and Weisbrod is afraid that McGrady will leave the team. If McGrady is determined to go, Weisbrod doesn't want to lose him for nothing.

"I have no intention of starting the season with an 'I don't know' [from McGrady]. That's a fair statement," Weisbrod told the Orlando Sentinel.

"I don't want it misinterpreted that we're looking for a way to trade him -- we're not. My only objective is to push things to a conclusion during the course of the offseason. I'm not an idiot. If he comes to me July 1 and says come hell and high water I'm opting out, I'd be sort of foolish to say. 'Let's see during the course of the year if he changes his mind.' "

McGrady was surprised to hear the news, but after a meeting with Weisbrod later on Wednesday, he tried to put everything in perspective. McGrady said that he wants to remain a member of the Magic, but winning is important too.

"I don't want to leave," McGrady said. "I want to be here at home, but if it doesn't happen, I'll go somewhere else. I'll tell them it's just not working out, so let's both gain something from this.

"If we make all our moves and we improve our talent by training camp, maybe I'll go ahead and make my decision. I think they deserve to know what I'm going to do before the trade deadline. If I do decide to go, I don't want to play the entire year and them get nothing for me. They helped me get to the player I am now."

The trade deadline may be too late for Weisbrod, however.

"I don't think I'd be very comfortable in February," said Weisbrod. "I can't imagine putting the ball up in air to start next season with a feeling of uncertainty of where that's going. That's counterproductive to what we're trying to do."

Look for the feeding frenzy to begin right away. A number of teams will be willing to take a chance on McGrady. With the team capped out and Weisbrod's hands tied, its only real shot of significantly improving will be if it lands Emeka Okafor in the draft, trades Juwan Howard or Drew Gooden for a starting point guard or center, lands a nice free agent with the mid-level exception and gets a healthy Grant Hill in the fall. That's a lot of ifs.

Kobe's short memory serves him well

By Terry Brown
NBA Insider
Thursday, April 15
Updated: April 15
2:16 PM ET

Kobe Bryant didn't win the Lakers' final regular-season game against the Portland Trail Blazers with 1.1 seconds left in regulation when he triple-pumped that leaning 3-pointer in from beyond the top of the key.

He didn't win the game with one second left in double-overtime on a turnaround, fall away 3-pointer with Ruben Patterson tapping him on the wrist.

He won it seven years ago when, as an 18-year-old rookie, he stood all alone at the top of the key in a second-round elimination game against the Utah Jazz and airballed two potential game-winning shots and the Lakers lost.

Let's not forget that with 1:40 left in regulation of Wednesday night's game, Bryant missed a jumper that would have put the Lakers ahead by a point. With 1:15 left on the clock, he was whistled for traveling after forcing his way between two defenders in the paint. With 0:55 left, he missed two free throws with the Blazers up by three. At the 0:14 mark, he missed a 3-point shot with that same Ruben Patterson crowding him into the far corner.


With the game on the line, the Lakers are comfortable with the ball in Kobe Bryant's hands.
But with one second left, the rest became history.

"It was a great shot by the young fellow, Kobe," Shaquille O'Neal said in the Los Angeles Times. "He told us, 'Set me a good pick and we're going home.' This is how a great player, a great confident guy makes a shot."

In other words, Bryant doesn't simply make game-winning shots at the buzzer. He makes two or three or strings together runs all by himself while shutting down the league's leading scorer for an entire half.

Or he airballs a forced jumper while an unnamed teammate stands wide open on the periphery and thousands pseudo-psychologists in throwback jerseys that match their sneakers scream PASS THE BALL.

And then calls for the rock the very next time down the court.

So with the playoffs upon us and the league's top six teams divided by only six teams (the sixth being the one with the best record not one month ago), this more than any of his numerous attributes is what makes Bryant the best clutch player in what figures to be a playoff season that will come down to the final second.

We've listed these clutch players below, one representative from each playoff team, from best to worst with the clock winding down and the season hinging on the flick of a wrist.

1. Kobe Bryant, Los Angeles Lakers
See above.

2. Reggie Miller, Indiana Pacers
He is 39-years-old and playing fewer minutes and taking fewer shots with those minutes than ever before. But 115 playoff games is 115 playoff games, especially when your career mark from 3-point range during the postseason is 39.9 percent. Still comes off screens with abandon, still gets bug-eyed with the shot clock shrinking, still would love to end his storied career with his right arm outstretched and left leg kicked forward for the foul. Against the Knicks would be just fine. In Madison Square Garden would be sublime.

3. Robert Horry, San Antonio Spurs
Career could be summed up in about 10 seconds of actual game time with the closing shot of him and five championship rings. Or will it be six with three different teams and three different MVPs in the post?

4. Paul Pierce, Boston Celtics
Playoff demigod who has single-handedly carried unworthy teams to unimagined heights. Just finished the toughest season of his career and hasn't played since April 10 as his team lost five of its last six. That should make Indiana very confident. Or very, very afraid.


The Kings have plenty of weapons, but Mike Bibby is the player opponents fear the most.
5. Mike Bibby, Sacramento Kings
His stroke only seems to get better as the game wears on. So good, in fact, that he's turned his team's centers into statistical point guards and the point guard, himself, into the shooter. Teammate Peja Stojakovic can win all the 3-point shooting contest he wants. Bibby after one rhythm dribble is still the guy opponents fear most on the Kings with the game on the line and I have yet to see him visibly sweat.

6. Sam Cassell, Minnesota Timberwolves
Kevin Garnett can have the first three quarters, but Sam gets the last one. That's the deal. Funny how all these years, critics keep claiming that KG doesn't have a go-to shot or the willingness the take the last shot or shots. Then Cassell comes along and all of a sudden KG is the MVP when, in fact, it's the same KG with a guy willing to take the last shot as a sidekick.

7. Stephon Marbury, New York Knicks
Last year, he hit a bank shot against the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs that proved to be the best shot that anyone had to beat Tim Duncan in the postseason and made it looked like he called it. Arguably quicker dribbling the ball than in track shoes, can get his shot off against anyone, anywhere which, when you think about, is just as important as a willingness or ability to shoot it.

8. Chauncey Billups, Detroit Pistons
Very similar to Cassell in this respect, just 67 playoff games and two NBA titles his junior. But don't think he isn't using that as motivation after playing for five different teams in seven seasons after being the No. 3 overall pick in 1997.

9. Baron Davis, New Orleans Hornets
Prior to this season, Baron Davis averaged 13.3 points per game over his career during the regular season and 18.1 points per game in the playoffs. Not only is he getting better. He's getter better at the right times. One month into this season, we were calling him the MVP. And, now, after this regular season, we can only hope he's healthy enough to see how good he's really gotten.

10. Steve Nash, Dallas Mavericks
Over the head, fall away leaners, I swear I've seen a hook. There are instances I don't think he even knows what he's going to do when he leaves his feet in the key. But the only time his coach complains is when he doesn't shoot it. This uncanny ability to just get the shot off coupled with his skills as a shooter and passer make him very dangerous at the top of the key with the ball going from his right to left hand and his head tilted forward.

11. Cuttino Mobley, Houston Rockets
With Yao Ming in center and Steve Francis running the point, this guy may never get the credit he deserves for scoring 18 a game over the last five years while shooting 37 percent from long range, which is just fine with him so long as he doesn't get the defensive attention, either.

12. James Posey, Memphis Grizzlies
He is big for a shooting guard. He is strong for a swingman. He has somehow found a way to shine in a 10-man rotation in which no one scores more than 18 a game but eight of them average 8.5 points or more. Hubie Brown calls him his most valuable player. And we're not going to argue with 20.6 points per game in April on 50 percent shooting. But we are going to wait and see.

13. Michael Redd, Milwaukee Bucks
Once made eight 3-pointers in a single fourth quarter against the Rockets a couple years ago and has earned every bit of the praise put upon him and his southpaw stroke since. But this is his first playoff run in charge and almost winning last year's Sixthman of the Year award doesn't count when you've gone 3-for-14 in the last three games from distance as your team falls from fourth to sixth in the seedings.

14. Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
Getting here is one thing. Getting higher on this list will take a lot more of that one thing.

15. Rafer Alston, Miami Heat
This made-for-video point guard is the wildest card on a team of wild cards. He will take the last shot. He will even make the last shot. And he will audibly wonder why the only people who appreciate his game are those in baggy pants.

16. Jason Kidd, New Jersey Nets
The reason that a guy with a career scoring average of 14.8 at 40 percent shooting is always open for the last-second shot is because the other team wants him to shoot it. Duh. May very well be one of the finest point guards to ever play the game, but that has everything to do with his 6,738 assists in the regular season and nothing to do with his 27 percent 3-point shooting in the playoffs.

Peep Show

NBA Insider
Thursday, April 15
Updated: April 15
9:28 AM ET


Houston
New York Knicks: Allan Houston's mind is willing to play in the postseason, but the body is weak. "It's not really healthy, it's not to the point where it's healed," Houston said in the New York Post of sore left knee. "It's not where it should be or I want it to be. I don't want to miss out in the opportunity to play in the playoffs. I've been waiting for this for a long time. I just don't want to rule out anything. But if I had to play today, I definitely couldn't. But if the team needs me to do something, I'll do whatever I can to help." He just hopes his teammates believe him. "There's a difference between not being where you'd like to be and not being able to play period," Houston said. "Right now I just can't play. It would almost be better if I had a cast on my leg. It would be a visible sign. But at the same time, I'm not going to rule out Game 1. If coach sees that I can help and wants me, too, I'll definitely consider it. We may get to a certain round where it may feel a lot better."

Minnesota Timberwolves: Troy Hudson found something he didn't like during his latest trip to the doctor's office. "It really showed up on the X-rays," Hudson said in the Star Tribune. "I don't know how long the calcium's been there, but that's what's been causing a lot of the inflammation and pain. . . . It's not going anywhere, so I think this is the best thing to do." In other words, he's out of the playoffs for good and will have surgery. "It's been like that the whole year," said Sam Cassell. "He'll be sorely missed. But it's that time of year you can't worry about that. We'd love to have Huddy back, but he's not here. So the only thing we can do is move on."


Camby
Denver Nuggets: Marcus Camby got more than 21 rebounds Monday night. He also got a $750,000 bonus after his season average in rebounding jumped to 10.1 per game. "I reached a big bonus," the free agent-to-be said in the Rocky Mountain News before turning his attention to even bigger money. "(The Nuggets) better get something done with the way I've been playing. I know a lot of teams will have a lot of interest." Camby's camp has mentioned that the power forward would prefer to stay in Denver and would do so with a six-year, $60 million deal. "We really would like him to stay in Denver and I think he's found a home here," general manager Kiki Vandeweghe said. "He played so hard at the end of the season. I'm happy he ended up averaging 10 rebounds."

Indiana Pacers: Reggie Miller will play one more season, but only if the Pacers fail to win the championship. But if they win . . . "I would seriously contemplate it," he said in the Indianapolis Star. "At my age, you want to think about going out on top." Miller is 39-years-old. "I do love to play," Miller said. "And I love playing on this team. There's not as much pressure. My minutes are great at 27 to 30. I know exactly when I'm coming out and exactly how hard to play and what to do. It would be tough, but I'd have to assess that situation when I get to that point if we do win it."

New Orleans Hornets: Jamal Mashburn has just one demand and he'll play in the first round. "If I could play basketball on a bike, I would be fine," Mashburn said in the Times Picayune. "This is one of the injuries I've had that I can't diagnose. I don't how it's going to feel in a couple of weeks." If not, he's out. "It's disappointing in a lot of ways, but I'm not only concerned about this year but also years to come," Mashburn said in the . "I'm having pain, and I'm feeling bone hitting on bone. I'm not able to run. As far as the first (round) part of the playoffs, I'm not going to be able to play."


Bowen
San Antonio Spurs: Let the trash talking begin. "I look forward to it," Bruce Bowen said in the San Antonio Express of guarding James Posey. "It's something I'm really, really looking forward to." Especially since the Grizzlies beat the Spurs three times this year. "They were very satisfied with their victories against us," Bowen said. "We weren't at full strength. There's nothing we can say or do about that. It happened, and we understand that. Now, it will be a chance, hopefully, to have our team healthy, and we'll see what goes on if we're healthy."

Golden State Warriors: Even if head coach Eric Musselman knew if he was going to coach the Warriors next season, he wouldn't tell us. "The only thing I'm concerned with is tonight's basketball game," he said in the Contra Costa Times yesterday. "Again, there's really no use talking about that. It's not my decision right now. I love to coach basketball ... so."

Seattle SuperSonics: Ray Allen wishes the Sonics would just do something about their terrible locker rooms. "There are a lot of organizations that do more for their players, just in terms of locker-room amenities," he said in the Seattle Times. "Our locker room could be better in both places (the practice facility and KeyArena). This is just based on what we've seen around the league." He's even willing to lower his salary demands, he's due for an extension in July, to help lure other players if the Sonics will do their part. "At the end of the day we play basketball, so that's your chief concern," Allen said. "The basketball is what's most important. ... The other stuff, well, you just want everything in place. You want to be treated like you're valued."

* Houston Iffy For Playoffs
Marc Berman / New York Post
* Notebook: Hudson's season is done
Steve Aschburner / Minneapolis Star Tribune
* Camby's game nets more than playoffs
Chris Tomasson / Rocky Mountain News
* Mashburn likely to miss series
John Reid / New Orleans Times-Picayune
* Bowen ready to take on Posey
Mike Monroe / San Antonio Express-News
* Musselman mum on return
Matt Steinmetz / Contra Costa Times
* Allen wants to stay, but wants better amenities
Percy Allen / Seattle Times