3. Tim Duncan  is still great, but the Spurs also win because they’ve got the smartest front office in the league.
5. OK, Mike Brown . I’ll be the first to say it: The Cavs would be a better team if Shaq came off the bench.
8. Question of the year: Is Shawn Marion  back to being the original Matrix? Or is he the just-miss of Matrix Reloaded? (Full disclosure: I don’t care about Shawn Marion. I just wanted to shout out the movie, which — and I can’t believe this — is already 10 years old.)
9. They’ll easily win 30 more games than last year (when they won 19). But their flaw is that they don’t have an elite, or even good, defender on the roster.
10. It’s too bad Isiah Thomas  has been a disaster since he retired from the Pistons. Otherwise, you’d know exactly what I mean when I say that the dynamic Chris Paul  is Isiah of the 21st century.
11. It’s simple: If they can move Carlos Boozer, they’ll be a better team. If not, one and done in the playoffs.
17. Not sure what Joe Dumars is trying to build here. Then again, I STILL can’t believe Joe D passed up Melo, D-Wade and Chris Bosh for Darko Milicic .
18. Sorry, but I’m not watching them until Blake Griffin  returns from injury. Wake me in eight weeks.
20. I must be in a good mood, because I’m leaving them here despite watching them score 59 points against the Celtics . 59!
21. Bad sign for the Pacers: Danny Granger  is a baller and Troy Murphy  is a baller, yet they still managed just 36 wins last year. And the addition who will help them most this year is … Dahntay Jones.
22. Once upon a time, long ago in a 1980s land, Don Nelson  actually coached teams that played defense.
24. The best thing I can say about the Nets  is that if the Magic win the title, maybe Nets execs also will get rings for generously helping the cause.
25. You guys aren’t gonna believe what I just heard: Tracy McGrady  is hurt. Oh, I know it’s shocking, but it’s true.
26. I’m in love with Kevin Durant . Yeah, I said it. You’d say it, too, if he was playing in a real market. I swear, the University of Texas got more attention with Durant than Oklahoma City has with him.
28. Remember what I said about the Spurs’ front office? Well, the Wolves may have the dumbest. Taking two point guards in the lottery? Foolish. The only thing fun about this team is watching Al Jefferson , and he’ll be hurt by March.
29. Is it possible for a team to tank AFTER the season? I hate blatant salary dumps, and that’s exactly what the Richard Jefferson  deal was.
30. True story: I was hanging out with a half-dozen hoop fans last week, and five of them didn’t know who Sacramento’s coach is. Do you? Do you need a hint? Damn, you know Paul Westphal must love the game if he took this job.