Bernucca: You Can Have the NCAA Tournament

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sportsWICHITAstate_t640I don’t like the NCAA Tournament.

I don’t like that college basketball’s regular season provides little postseason incentive. I don’t like that the coach is a bigger personality than the players. I don’t like that the games are played on neutral courts. I don’t like that one bad game or bad call or bad break can end a team’s season. I don’t like that “close” becomes a synonym for “well-played.” And I don’t like that poor play determines the outcome much more often than great play.

Most of all, I don’t like how I’m supposed to just accept that it’s fantastic and wonderful and beautiful, when it’s actually substandard basketball in a flawed format that tells me less and less every year about the game I love, which is the NBA.

I’m not trolling here. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’ve truly felt this way for a while. Part of it is admittedly a lingering distaste developed over more than a decade of working on a sports news desk and spending countless hours having to plan, preview, write, edit, update and package all of the words and numbers associated with the NCAA Tournament.

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SH Blog: Problems Continue in New York; Wizards Interested in Greg Monroe; Parker, Embiid Could Stay in School

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Carmelo AnthonyAfter a brutal 23 point loss to the Brooklyn Nets on a Martin Luther King Day matinee, the New York Knicks — and especially Carmelo Anthony — must come to this realization: to find the right answers they have to understand the right problems. If they don’t figure out how to accept the reality of their problems — and there are many — then they will never be able to overcome them. 

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SH Blog: What does Rose’s injury mean for the Bulls?

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What’s going on? Are the Nets really this bad?

They lost to the Pistons (who have also started a bit sluggishly) today. And that was with Joe Johnson going bonkers from deep.

Also losing today were the Jazz. They’re really this bad. Not as bad as that time in the video game when I traded all their players away for draft picks and had Jason Kapono and Brian Scalabrine in the starting lineup, but pretty bad.

SH Blog: Nuggets rejected Shumpert offer from Knicks, Lacob explains why it wasn’t hard to sign Iguodala

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There’s nothing like a juicy rumor floating around the league, and there was one worth discussing from Wednesday involving Iman Shumpert and Kenneth Faried. Both are still developing and we still don’t know who they truly are as of yet in terms of potential, but there is no doubt that plenty of teams are interested in obtaining either player. So are the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets entertaining offers? That is the question, which we have some answers to below.

STORY OF THE DAY:

ImanShumpertThe hottest rumor of the day came from Frank Isola of NYDN:

J.R. Smith is starting & Iman Shumpert could be departing. I’m hearing Knicks-Nuggets continue to discuss an Iman for Kenneth Faried trade.

The all-knowing Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports!, however, shot down any notion that this is an ongoing discussion:

Denver has made it clear to Kenneth Faried’s reps: There are no active talks involving him. Knicks offered Shumpert. Denver rejected idea.

There’s been significant interest NBA-wide in Faried, but short of including him into a blockbuster deal, it’s unlikely Denver moves him.

Knicks fans appeared to be devastated by the idea of losing Shumpert, so Woj’s report should provide them some relief. However, there are a number of teams interested in the guard, and the Knicks are undecided on what they want to do. Marc Stein of ESPN has it covered:

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Preseason Playoff Picture: Western Conference

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Dirk NowitzkiIn a teleconference last week, we asked NBA analysts Chris Webber and Greg Anthony to pick a Western Conference team which missed the playoffs last season but will make the playoffs this season.

“Dallas, mainly because of Dirk Nowitzki,” Webber said. “He’ll be back healthy. What he does, with spacing, getting guys involved … We take his game for granted.”

“I would go with the Pelicans,” Anthony said. “I think that’s a team that could make sizeable leaps and surprise a lot of people.”

Both those teams are certainly among the half-dozen in the hunt for what appears to be two postseason spots up for grabs in the West. Those spots belonged to the Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets, who also remain in the running despite taking some backward steps in the offseason.

Without getting into seeding specifics, the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets look like mortal locks to be playing in May.

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