Stein On Gasol, Harden, Lin, Bobcats

In the weekend version of his column,'s Marc Stein wonders if any of the four teams involved in the Dwight Howard blockbuster can call themselves the winner.  Right now, it would seem that the Magic are the only club that can claim to feel any sort of satisfaction with its current state of affairs.  Coach Jacque Vaughn has looked like a smart hire, center Nikola Vucevic is producing consistently, and last week's win over the Lakers should keep Orlando fans happy for a good while.  Stein also checked in with a group of league scouts at the quarter-mark of the year to get their thoughts on this summer's player movement and moves that could be around the bend.  Let's take a look..

  • An Eastern Conference scout believes that Steve Nash can fix the Lakers' problem upon his return.  Nash can obviously run Mike D'Antoni's offense, but Pau Gasol doesn't seem to be the power forward the club needs to make everything work.  Even though Gasol has helped the Lakers to two NBA titles, the scout believes they will ultimately trade him.
  • After seeing the way the Thunder have played without James Harden, an Eastern Conference scout says that he can understand why they opted to keep Serge Ibaka instead.  Kevin Martin has played well in the No. 3 role and will be a major asset in the playoffs if he can help pull defensive attention away from Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.  With the aforementioned stars both being capable of closing out games, the scout picks Oklahoma City to win the West.
  • A Western Conference scout gave a less-than-stellar appraisal of Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin.  "On an average team, he can be a starter. On a good team, he's going to have to be a backup," said the scout.
  • The Bobcats may not be able to keep up this level of play all season long but new coach Mike Dunlap is showing that he can get a great deal out of his players, according to one Western Conference scout.  The scout notes that Brendan Haywood is taking charges and diving after loose balls more than he was for the Mavs' championship team.
  • Stein hears that the Clippers' new director of basketball administration Eric Miller is being groomed for a larger role in the Clips' decision-making hierarchy.

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