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Isiah Thomas is an Excellent Driver

Though I enjoyed it very much, the slam dunk contest was a joke. The problems have been written about all over the place, so instead I'll offer a solution. Each of the four contestants get four dunks. The first three rounds are limited to three attempts per dunk with the last round having unlimited attempts. After all dunks are completed a panel of "experts" (as in former players who have at least the cognitive ability of a multi-cellular organism) will pick the four best dunks (one per player to avoid a situation where the fans split the vote between two dunks by the same guy). The public will then pick the winner, in 10 minutes of online and/or text messaging voting.

This prevents the judges' inevitable premature adulation: giving perfect 10s in first round when everyone knows better dunks are coming. Fan involvement is encouraged, likely to increase ratings (and revenue to whatever cell phone company sponsors the text messaging portion). Barkley and crew could banter about which dunk was the best for each player. Leaving the unlimited attempts round to the end will build anticipation on what crazy-ass dunk each player is going to pull out. During the voting period TNT could interview the active players in the arena that didn't participate. You know Iverson, Shaq and company would love to share their opinions on who should win and the crowd would eat that shit up. (Did anyone notice Kobe's reaction when he realized that Robinson had won instead of AI? He looked crushed; I thought he was going to buy some diamond encrusted fronts for Igoudala just to say he's sorry.) They could interview random posse members and celebrities as well. Running voting results could be displayed on the scoreboard. What's not to like?

Call me crazy, but I had absolutely no desire to see four Pistons playing at once in the All Star Game. This has nothing to do with my thoughts on whether they deserved the spot; it was simply boring. If I wanted to watch "Pistons basketball" I would watch a DET game. Do people really want to watch Rip running off staggered screens? And was anyone really surprised that four Pistons plus Pierce outplayed the West? Hell, four Raptors plus Pierce would likely beat the West, too. Virtually any NBA team playing team basketball would beat an All-Star team featuring guys trying lobs from half court. And yeah, I would feel the same way about four Spurs. I know how the Spurs play. I don't know how Manu would play with Nash, Marion, Dirk and Brand. That's what I would want to see.

My favorite part of the latest Isiah trade isn't that the Knicks will be paying $60+ million a year (including luxury tax) for Marbury and Francis. It's not that these two players are incompatible due to both of them being undersized for a shooting guard (not that they play much defense anyway). Nor is it that the combination will drive the lying, sniveling Larry Brown to a premature demise. The best part about this deal is that multiple media outlets are reporting that Isiah is stockpiling assets in order to go after Garnett in the summer.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. I can see only one high-quality asset the Knicks have that MIN could possibly want. And that's Channing Frye. They have don't have any premium draft picks over the next two years. Meanwhile a team like CHI could offer some combination of Deng, Gordon, Duhon, Nocioni, Hinrich and Chandler plus multiple premium first round picks.

I didn't get to watch the SA-SEA game because the NBA League Pass channel was blacked out and I didn't notice until the game was already over. I'm beginning to see the early signs of Spurs withdrawal.

Here are my quick midseason player reviews; based on minutes of careful consideration and preseason expectations.

Coach Pop, B

Clearly trying to establish a rotation ASAP but stuck with Finley in the starting lineup way too long. Has successfully kept Manu's minutes down but needs to do the same for Timmeh; props for loosening the reins on Parker.

Mike Budenholzer, A+

I just like saying his name. Boo-din-hol-zer.

Sean Marks, B+

He's played well when given the opportunity and helped spawn a new catch phrase: AND SEAN MARKS FINISHES THE JOB!!!

Beno Udrih, B

Yeah, Van Exel is a better ball-handler, but that's the end of the list in my book.

Fabricio Oberto, C+

He looks less lost every time he plays and always brings the effort.

Brent Barry, D

40.3% from the field and 33.7% from 3 isn't good enough for a guy that's getting $5 million a year to shoot the ball.

Robert Horry, NA

The regular season? We're talking about the regular season?

Nick Van Exel, D

Why do I have the feeling that Spurs fans will blame a key playoff loss on his poor shot selection and total inability to guard anyone with legs?

Nazr Mohammed, B-

I'm seeing improvement, but he needs to up his blocks and cut down on turnovers and the ubiquitous mental errors.

Rasho Nesterovic, B

As solid as ever, but he needs to cut down on his ubiquitous lack of athleticism.

Michael Finley, D-

How bad has Finley played? The lineup of TP/BB/MF/TD/RS has outscored its opponents by a whopping 13 points in 286 minutes. That amounts to 2.2 points per game. For a team with a 6.5 point differential.

The Sickness, B-

Swap Manu for Finley in the above lineup and you have a squad that has outscored its opponents by 113 points in 335 minutes; 16.2 points per game. Certainly not the same guy we saw in the playoffs, but, well, this isn't the playoffs. His regular season numbers from last year are similar and his grade would be higher if not for the injuries.

Bruce Bowen, A-

He's added to his offensive game without adding FGA, but I'll be damned if he hasn't lost a quarter-step on defense. Yeah, I said it.

Tim Duncan, B

Lowest, PPG, FG% and BPG of his career. 59% of his FGA are outside of the lane which is higher than Parker and Ginobili. Still an incredible defensive anchor but, like last year, not capable of offensively carrying this team to a title. His plantar fascia cost him a half-grade or so.

Tony Parker, A

Better shot selection this year and maybe the best guard finisher in the NBA (his eFG% inside is 71.1% compared to 55.3% for Wade, 52.3% for Bryant and 63.7% for LeBron). Still has the undeniable Achilles heel to his game that will be exploited without mercy during the playoffs.