- Remember this guy Steve Francis? Remember how the Clippers wanted to sign him, but he ended up taking a minimum deal to return to the Rockets, his former team? Remember how it seemed strange, since the Rockets already had starter Rafer Alston, and had just traded for Mike James? The Rockets are 3-0 on the season, Alston and James are each averaging 25 minutes per game, and Francis has not played a single minute. I hope he likes the town, because it looks like that's all he's getting out of this decision.
- Remember Juan Jose Barea? Undrafted out of college, he signed with the Mavericks and spent most of last season on the inactive list or in the D-league. Down the stretch, he got his first career start in that fateful game against the Warriors, when the Clippers still had a chance to catch Golden State, but Avery Johnson rested all his starters and most of the primary backups. Well, Barea got his second career start on Saturday and responded with 25 points on 9 for 11 shooting. In fact, he's 14 for 18 on the season so far. Looks like the guy can play.
- Only six players from the 2004 draft class were extended before the deadline on Halloween. Dwight Howard (duh), Al Jefferson, Devin Harris, Kevin Martin, Jameer Nelson and... Kris Humphries. The first five are all starters on their respective teams. Kris Humphries averaged 11 minutes in his only season with the Raptors last year. Since then, they signed Jason Kapono and gave up 2 second round picks for Carlos Delfino. Why did Toronto would feel compelled to lock up their 11th man for three seasons? I mean, sure, 3/$9M isn't a lot, but it ain't the minimum. Bryan Colangelo seems to know what he's doing, but this one is strange.
- Speaking of the class of 2004, teams seem to be counting on the fact that no one is going to have a lot of money to throw around next summer. Huge names from Emeka Okafor to Ben Gordon to Luol Deng to Josh Smith and on and on will be restricted free agents in July. With those names available, it's hard to imagine that anyone is going to make a big offer to the Clippers' Shaun Livingston, regardless of how he looks in his return from knee surgery. I expect that the Clippers will have the field to themselves at anything above the mid level. (Of course the mid-level may be risky depending on the state of his comeback.) Don't be surprised if some of these guys (maybe even Livingston) take their qualifying offers looking for a big payoff in summer 09.
- It seems to happen every year, but there's some decided weirdness in the early season results, especially in the East. Indiana is 3-0. Toronto is 2-0 and destroying teams. Everybody's darling Chicago is 0-3. The Wizards are 0-3 with all of their big three healthy.