In today's column, David Aldridge of NBA.com writes that the strong backcourts of the Eastern Conference's up-and-down teams are giving them hope for the future. Who's the best of the bunch? Evan Turner, who might be slightly biased, says it's him and Sixers teammate Jrue Holiday. "It's not an arrogant thing or anything like that," Turner said. "We're the best. It's not even — no disrespect to anybody else — it's not even close…Obviously, John [Wall] is a next-level-fast point guard. Bradley Beal has been great. But I just feel like we match up better. Kyrie Irving's a great player, and also Dion [Waiters] can definitely play. But the stuff that Jrue and I have been through, you can't really speed down that rock." Here's more from Aldridge..
- Paul Pierce told Aldridge that he has never gone to Celtics GM Danny Ainge and asked him not to break up the team's core. At the same time, the star guard says that he hopes to retire as a Celtic. He believes that Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, and Dirk Nowitzki have a 100% chance of going out with their respective clubs but he's not quite as confident about his own odds, given the amount of trade talk surrounding him over the last two years.
- There have been mixed interpretations of Commissioner David Stern's recent disclosed that the Sacramento group's bid for the Kings is well behind Seattle's. One NBA exec says that he is taking it at face value and believes that Stern sees it as a win-win since either outcome will result in a new arena.
- Meanwhile, Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson still has to sell the city council on the arena plan and how to pay for it. At least two council members are strongly against it but there are three swing votes that the mayor is working hard to win. Sources believe that he will ultimately be successful in picking those votes up.
- Aldridge wonders if the NBPA could be working on a settlement with Billy Hunter. Sources indicate such talks could be picking up steam, though neither side would comment. One source with knowledge of the situation said the two sides had been talking throughout the process and didn't believe there was any new momentum toward a potential deal. A settlement would be the smart way to go for both Hunter and the union in order to avoid the continued airing of dirty laundry.