Gambling on the Western Conference: A Free-For-All

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The Western Conference is absolutely nothing like the Eastern Conference when it comes to championship odds.

We have what I call a two-horse race in the East versus what I am going to call the six-plus team race in the West.

In the 15 previous seasons, only four teams (the Lakers, seven times; the Spurs, five times, the Mavericks, two times; the Thunder, once)  have won the Western Conference, which is a similar concept to what the Eastern Conference has gone through recently, as I outlined in this column laying out the loooong odds on anyone not from Miami or Indiana winning the East.

Tweet of the Night: Bill Simmons takes jab at Chris Paul and Stephen Jackson

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Jeff Hornacek SunsHow good are the Phoenix Suns?

Coming into the season, most wondered if they could win 19 games this year. After their 107-88 blowout victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday, they are an impressive 19-11 – just one game behind the Clippers for the Pacific division lead. In comparison, they didn’t get to 19 wins until February 26 last season. 

SH Blog: Kidd threw “13-letter word” against Lawrence, Clippers to acquire Stephen Jackson

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kiddnetsIt was reported last week that the divorce between Jason Kidd and Lawrence Frank was brewing since the beginning of the season. Mike Mazzeo of ESPN came up with a few more details on what exactly went down:

Brooklyn Nets coach Jason Kidd allegedly used “a 13-letter word” against assistant Lawrence Frank during a blow-up at some point following the team’s loss in Orlando on Nov. 3.

In an expletive-laced rant, Kidd told Frank to sit down and be quiet.

“I’m the coach of this [13-letter word] team,” Kidd said, according to

Frank was told at one point by somebody in the organization to curb his behavior on the bench during games and not be as active and demonstrative as he was earlier in the season, sources told The week before he learned he would not be helping run practices or sit on the bench during games, it was definitely noticeable that Frank wasn’t doing as much.

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SH Blog: Heat come to terms with Beasley, Jim Buss explains why Lakers really passed on Phil Jackson

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Michael BeasleyYou can be an incredibly gifted scorer in the NBA, but these days, that skill alone won’t necessarily cut it for most teams. You have to understand the concept of team play on both ends of the court. Without it, you might not be good enough to stick around in the league, and that is especially true if you come with baggage.

At this point in his career, Michael Beasley is that guy – a pretty good scorer that doesn’t defend and causes off-court issues. For his inability to generate positive results both on and off the court, the forward was released by the Phoenix Suns earlier in the summer. How did he get to this point from what was supposed to be such a promising career? Mark Deeks of SBNation shared his opinion on the matter:

Michael Beasley has taken extremely little care in cultivating his image of a wasted talent. The oft-documented off-court distractions that started from before he even took the court in his rookie season need no further documenting. It is known. Indeed, his career seppuku is close to being all that is known about him.

This is the path he chose. It is now the default Beasley story. “Off-court issues.” “Distraction.” “Immature.” “Bust.” And other pejoratives of the sort. This is the default story because he himself has rather made it be so. There have been no on-court positives to offset it all, so there’s nothing else for the storytellers to tell.

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SH Blog: Kobe out for USA team, LeBron compliments Nets offseason moves

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Kobe BryantWhen Kobe Bryant infamously ruptured his Achilles tendon just before the start of the playoffs this past season, many wondered about the future of the superstar and whether he would ever regain his form. The assumption that he would likely have to miss at least the first couple months of the upcoming season was a foregone conclusion. It wasn’t even a matter of doubt. It was a simple matter of medical science and what is typically expected of players that suffer injuries of this magnitude.

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