1 - What was your favorite moment from this year's All-Star weekend?
Michael Erler: Live, it had to be James Harden finishing dead last in the three-point shootout, as I predicted. Actually, I nailed Stephen Curry winning it, too. It's bittersweet I wasn't in Vegas to gamble on this stuff. I need the money. Not live, it was the video clips of Steve Kerr and Tim Duncan trading quips. Those were hilarious. (The actual All-Star game was quite terrible. It's no different than the rookie-sophomore game now, just a non-stop barrage of threes and alley-oops with no pretense of defense).
Bruno Passos: All I caught on this side of the pond was the three-point shootout, which was certainly as entertaining as I'd hoped. Between that and a legitimate Dunk Contest winner, it seems like All-Star Weekend has some potential if the NBA handles it the right way. No more fashion shows, please, though.
Jesus Gomez: I couldn't watch much of it live, since I spent much of the weekend going to a wedding and being terribly sick. But I'll go with Mo'ne Davis putting Kevin Hart on the spin cycle as my favorite moment. The celebrity game is kind of a joke but for some weird reason it bothers me that Kevin Hart is always voted MVP regardless of how he plays. It was nice to see Davis, who even someone like me who doesn't care for baseball at all finds charming, pulling a move like that on him.
Chris Itz: Timmy giving Kerr a hard time about his coaching strategy, that was pretty funny.
2 - The hard part of the RRT is about to start. Are you looking for improvement in a particular area from the team after the break?
Erler: Yes, particularly the "beating teams that aren't terrible," area. Seriously though it'd be nice to get consistent play from anyone on the team who isn't North American.
Passos: It's not next-level analysis, but the Spurs last year used second quarters as a springboard to blowouts and comebacks. I'm hoping a healthy bench and better game-to-game continuity leads to crisper execution, as it's looked like leads and momentum have slipped in that stretch.
Gomez: Transition defense.The Spurs allowed over 15 fastbreak points in December and January and have showed great improvement in February, allowing just a shade over 10. I want to see them continue to run back on defense, especially now that their legs are fresh.
Itz: I don't know about improvement in any particular are but I'd love to see the Spurs rid themselves of their inconsistent play -- It's been tough to watch sometimes.
3 - The trade deadline is right around the corner. Give me a trade you think should happen but won't.
Erler: You mean besides this one? Hey, a guy can dream. This one is a bit more realistic and doable, but it won't happen. The Pacers would have Dragic to make their playoff push and make their backcourt more dynamic --lord knows they need scoring options and playmakers-- and the Suns would get a promising young player in Rudez, a first-round pick and still $4 million of Scola's expiring contract. Dragic's contract is worth $7.5 million, but Rudez and a first-rounder should be enough to make up the $3.5 million difference.
Passos: I'm ready to see Denver blow it up and start over. As a Spurs fan, I obviously hope that doesn't mean other contenders poaching guys like Lawson and Afflalo, but as an NBA fan it pains me to watch teams slowly reel into mediocrity. And I'm ready for the Jusuf Nurkic era to begin.
Gomez: Channing Frye to the Hawks for Thabo Sefolosha, Pero Antic and John Jenkins. Imagine what coach Bud could do with a true stretch five like Frye. And the Magic are going nowhere, so shedding Frye's contract for smaller deals would make sense.
Itz: Does Amar'e Stoudamire for Brandan Wright work on the trade machine?
4 - Are the Mavericks improved by the addition of Amar'e Stoudemire?
Erler: They basically got a much older version of Brandan Wright back, with bad knees. It's gotta be better than Charlie Villanueva, but ultimately it won't move the needle much. The Mavs just have too many defensive flaws and the idea of outscoring those flaws away never works in the big picture.
Passos: They needed better depth in the frontcourt, and Stoudemire gives them that. He also, oddly, gives them three key players from the only Knicks team that was ever any good, as well as the league's foremost authority on red-wine baths. It's crazy he's still only 32.
Gomez: Absolutely. Stoudemire can do what Brandan Wright was doing for them, which is what they have been missing. He will dive hard on pick and rolls and catch lobs when they are thrown to him. He's also been surprisingly good in the post, which gives Rick Carlisle another offensive tool to punish opponents with. The defense will remain bad but Amar'e is a significant upgrade over Dwight Powell.
Itz: I don't understand what the Mavericks are doing. First Rondo and now Amar'e? Before Rondo arrived and Brandon Wright left, the Mavs had a historically great offense and it seems like they traded that offense to try to improve their middling defense and awful rebounding. Now their offense is not mind-boggling great like it was for the first six weeks of the season, and their defense and rebounding are still middling and poor. Amar'e can still be effective for short stretches on the offensive side of the court and just by being taller than 6' 7" he'll improve Dallas on the boards. So maybe he marginally improves the offense and helps the Mavs compete in the rebounding battle, but he was bad at defense when he was in his prime and now he's among the league's worst. Carlisle is a great coach so I'm not going to completely dismiss Amar'e's addition as inconsequential, but I don't think he'll be a significant factor.
5 - Since we are talking trades, how about a Faustian bargain: Would you agree to forcing Tim Duncan to retire right this second if it meant Anthony Davis would automatically become a Spur in the process?
Erler: Personally I wouldn't, because I'm more of a sentimental fan than a rational one. If I was Pop or R.C. though I'd retire Duncan's jersey tomorrow and pick up Davis from the airport on Thursday. Heck, I think even Duncan would voluntarily retire under such a scenario, because he's Tim Duncan.
Passos: If by Faustian you also mean Peytonian, with a bit more shooing away involved, I'm pretty conflicted. But if Duncan bows out and willingly passes the torch, then sign me up. Does this make it a done deal, then?
Gomez: I like watching Anthony Davis so much that Michael Erler is convinced I'm a Pelicans fan now. AD and Kawhi as the centerpieces with Parker acting as the veteran leader and with the Spurs' supporting cast? That's a championship team and a potential dynasty. And yet....I wouldn't do it, even if it's the rational thing to do. As much as I love watching Davis do insane things on the court, I love watching Duncan play even more.
Itz: I've been dreaming of AD coming to the Spurs and the multiple championships that would come with him since November 2013. Now he's exceeding expectations, making a good case for being the best player on the planet and he's so young it's not absurd to think he could end up being the greatest player of all time. Stacking 'chips up in the River City would set him on his way and he seems to have the kind of head, heart and attitude that would allow him to thrive with the Spurs for the next 15 years. That said, I'm far too sentimental to even consider AD over Big Fun.