Nothin' but Net: Santa is still listening
By Jim Brighters, NBA Editor
Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Santa Claus is still taking requests.
Malls will be open all day and night Monday and even Tuesday, Christmas Eve.
If you need a last-minute gift for either a loved one -- or perhaps, more accurately, a forgotten one -- you still have time.
Things are no different in the NBA. It's not too late for Santa to get what every team in the league needs. Remember, he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good, for goodness sake.
Santa doesn't seem to be cool with tanking.
If you're looking for something for your favorite NBA team, here are last- second Christmas lists for teams around the association.
The Atlanta Hawks could use a big-time marketing machine. Is there a more unheralded group of fringe stars than Al Horford (18.2 ppg/8.3 rpg/56 percent from the field), Paul Millsap (16.4 ppg/8.2 rpg) and Jeff Teague (15.8 ppg/8.0 apg)? Neither Horford nor Millsap are in the top 15 in frontcourt All-Star voting and Teague isn't in the top 10 in guards. Rajon Rondo, who hasn't played a nanosecond, and three Miami Heat guards are.
The Phoenix Suns need very little, actually. They've been the surprise team of this season thanks to Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, perhaps a top-five backcourt in the league. They have a ton of cap flexibility next season and as many as four first-round picks in one of the most loaded drafts in 15 years. Yeah, Phoenix is not getting coal.
The Heat have to figure out how to play against Roy Hibbert of the Pacers. Santa has time on this one, because Miami needs to get it solved by May. If the Heat and Pacers, barring injury, don't play in the Eastern Conference Finals, I'll fall over.
The Minnesota Timberwolves need a star. Kevin Love is one. There is a lot of talent on this roster and Rick Adelman is a Hall of Famer in these eyes. So why do the Wolves flounder? You need two stars, that's why. Ricky Rubio isn't quite there yet. Nikola Pekovic looks like he kills his meals just before eating them, but he's no superstar. Kevin Martin can score, but he's not enough.
The Boston Celtics wish for one of the New York teams to step up, so the Celts don't have to win the Atlantic Division. Oh, and a firm decision on whether to trade Rajon Rondo.
The New Orleans Pelicans hope for luck in six months. They aren't going to make the playoffs and have a top-five protected pick, so if the Pelicans get slotted sixth through 14, that pick belongs to Philadelphia.
Speaking of the 76ers, they hope to keep losing and for Michael Carter- Williams to stay healthy-ish. Also, they could use some assets (cough/wink/cap space) for Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes.
The Dallas Mavericks hope to ride Dirk Nowitzki into the postseason -- but also, as a stocking stuffer, maybe a rebounder. Dallas is 26th in rebounding and that'll happen when Samuel Dalembert is a part of your frontline rotation.
The Charlotte Bobcats need to clear the schedule at Time Warner Cable Arena for at least one date in late April. They're going to the playoffs, thanks to being ranked second in opponents' scoring. The Bobcats could also use a scorer, because they have serious trouble putting the ball in the hoop.
The Indiana Pacers are good. They're probably practicing on Christmas.
The Los Angeles Clippers would like Santa to bring Doc Rivers' gravitas to L.A. in the summer. The Clippers are poised to make a run. They have very few weaknesses. They've been here before and Rivers is supposed to be the one to carry them over the hump. Maybe not THE hump, but A hump.
The only thing the Los Angeles Lakers want is somewhat fair value for Pau Gasol. They need to trade the Spaniard. The season has fallen apart quicker than the straw house of the first little pig. Gasol is attractive to some, but the Lakers can't take on long-term contracts in return. That's a little technical for Santa Claus.
The Milwaukee Bucks hope to finally embrace what they are and that is the favorites for the No. 1 pick. They put together an interesting roster, but injuries have railroaded it and now it's time to go very young, namely Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brandon Knight. This organization badly needs a superstar to make it relevant and the Bucks can get that in this draft.
The Chicago Bulls sat on Santa's lap and fell off, tore ligaments.
Oklahoma City really hoped Kris Kringle got the Thunder the time machine from "Back to the Future." That way, they could move time to start the postseason now. The Thunder are the best team in the league. They've begun defending and get fantastic contributions from Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb off the bench.
The Brooklyn Nets asked for a notepad because they need to jot down a plan for the future. Kevin Garnett will retire after the season. Paul Pierce is most likely gone. Brook Lopez is a big man who broke his foot three times and abnormally large men with bad feet is not a good combination. This season, the Nets went for it. Didn't work. They don't have a first-round pick until Hilary Clinton's second term in the Oval Office, so this is a huge chore. Work needs to begin now.
Utah wants shades, because the future is that bright. If the Jazz were in better shape for the future, they'd have Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie for parents. They went young this season and it's working. They're awful, but Trey Burke, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter and Gordon Hayward are gaining experience. Jabari Parker of Duke is a devout Mormon and that seems like a match made in an eternal celestial kingdom.
The Memphis Grizzlies asked for a toy truck. What do you call those ones with the armor the Army uses? Tank, that's it.
Denver wishes it had all of its old toys back, like its head coach, general manager, two best players. Actually, the Nuggets have done fine, well within the margin of an expected downfall.
The Raptors want answers. After moving Rudy Gay for peanuts, in a fairly obvious attempt at losing for Canadian Andrew Wiggins, Toronto has actually ascended into first place in the Atlantic Division. How could this be? How did this happen? How are the rest of you Atlantic Division teams so bad that we are taking steps to increase our chances of losing, yet you are topping that effort?
Gregg Popovich stood in line at the mall for Santa and requested more nationally televised games for the Spurs next season. That way, he can rest his regulars even more frequently and jump-start his feud with incoming commissioner Adam Silver.
The Orlando Magic wrote two words on their Christmas list: Marcus Smart.
Mark Jackson hopes to get luggage under the tree this year. He and his Golden State Warriors head off on a seven-game road trip Dec. 29. (Also, his Warriors could use something. Hard to pinpoint what exactly, but they've disappointed with a 15-13 mark.)
Cleveland would like LeBron back.
The Detroit Pistons want to figure out if their mammoth frontline can compete in a wing player-heavy league. If Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond and Josh Smith went fingertip-to-fingertip, they'd span Michigan.
Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge asked for some respect, both for himself and his Portland squad. Why doesn't he get more All-Star votes? Why doesn't he finish higher than fourth in most people's MVP ballots right now? How come fans still don't buy into Portland, despite a great road record, two superstars (Aldridge and Damian Lillard), a budding star (Nicolas Batum) and a prolific offense? Respect.
The Washington Wizards seek a do-over. Otto Porter Jr. has been hurt, ineffective and not what a No. 3 pick should be. Or, Washington would settle for a bungee chair. Heard they're popular this year.
Mike Malone begged for just one thing for his Kings -- defense. "I question how many guys that we have on this team who will take pride in their defense. I think a lot of guys are worried about their numbers and the offense, but they are not committed to defense," Malone said recently, according to Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com. Bah humbug.
The Houston Rockets asked Santa for a stretch-four in exchange for Omer Asik. Santa replied, "What?"
And finally, the New York Knicks wish Jason Kidd never got into coaching. So do the Brooklyn Nets.
12/23 14:27:05 ET