I spent last weekend in Wedding land. No, I wasn’t becoming a Mrs, but I was home in Nova Scotia for a friend’s wedding. After a weekend dedicated to togetherness and partnerships, I’ve been thinking about this lovely game and some people I’d like to see together for the greater good of the NBA.
Here’s a list of some pairings that could only make this game better:
Gregg Popovich/Spurs trading for J.R. Smith and helping him finally get it together — With the news that Denver is looking to unload J.R. Smith after an altercation that took place at the Nuggets training facility, I can’t help but wish him to the Spurs. I’ve long thought this would be a perfect pairing and now, after another season of inconsistency with the Nuggets, that sentiment remains. Popovich runs a tight ship: His players hold themselves accountable and understand what is expected of them while representing the Spurs franchise. The players are also low key. Tim Duncan, one of the greatest of all time, keeps things level. Even Tony Parker, who is married to Hollywood actress Eva Longoria, fades into the background. Maybe being surrounded by a group of guys who shun the spotlight for success would help J.R. realize his talent as well as teach him how to rein it in. If you need another reason to convince you why this might work, look at Stephen Jackson. Stack Jack won a championship ring with the Spurs and left town being called one of the greatest teammates Duncan has ever played with. Popovich and Jackson developed a relationship built on respect and his time with the Spurs organization helped shape Jackson into an NBA player. Who better than Pop to help Smith reach his potential?
Greg Oden and the Suns training staff pairing up for some health and fitness — Is there a team in the league with more vets who have had renewed careers than the Phoenix Suns? From Grant Hill to a suddenly healed Shaquille O’Neal post-trade to Steve Nash who has found the fountain of youth, I can’t help but wish the training staff could pair up with Portland’s Greg Oden. Don’t worry, Blazers fans, before you get angry with me, I’m not suggesting a trade or anything, just wishing that they could give your Go(l)den boy the gift of a long, prosperous career. It’s pretty wild to think that Grant Hill is 15 years older than Greg Oden. The 37 year-old Hill has played in 163 of 164 possible games over the past two seasons. By comparison, 22 year-old Oden appeared in 82 of a possible 164 games, missing a full 82 games because of injury. Yes, a partnership between the Suns trainers and Oden would be near the top of my list.
Pau Gasol and Marc Gasol on the same team — Because it would be fun for two brothers to play on the same squad and it would be really fun to hear tales from practice when younger brother beats up on older brother, forcing him to shed the “soft” title. I’d also like to see Marc play on a team where he’d get more shine on national television. He’s a player that’s a thrill to watch compete. Giving every ounce of effort on each play and wearing his emotions on his, uh, non-existing sleeve, the younger Gasol brother shoots down the thought that an 82-game NBA season is too long or that players only play hard in the postseason. Even though he’s never been there, Marc Gasol brings a playoff mentality every night. If he were paired up with his brother, that intensity would only increase and it would be us, the viewing public, that would benefit.
Sam Mitchell joining the Celtics coaching staff for Garnett’s final season — Earlier this week, Rob Mahoney of The Two Man Game linked to a few clips of Smitch and KG’s relationship in a piece about mentorship in the NBA and I can’t help but wish the two could be reunited for KG’s final season. Having covered the Raptors during Mitchell’s final season here, I was blessed with some amazing stories about his time in Minnesota with a Wolves squad that also included a rookie KG. When Mitchell talks about Garnett, he sounds like he is talking about his younger brother. Their relationship has remained intact over the years as you can see from this NBATV clip (check the 1:20 mark). While Mitchell is now with Avery Johnson and the Nets, having him on the sidelines (and perhaps picking up a ring) with the Celtics and a wiser, veteran KG would just feel right.