Friday, December 16, 2011

NBA on TNT Previews the 2011-12 Season

From TNT Sports -

Notes from the 2011 NBA on TNT Season Tip Off Conference Call

TNT will tip off the 2011-12 NBA season with a Christmas Day game featuring the Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks on Sunday, Dec. 25 at Noon (ET).  A special hour-long edition of TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by precedes the season’s first game at 11 a.m. (ET) featuring host Ernie Johnson alongside analysts Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and the  TNT debut of Shaquille O’Neal

Participants:  Charles Barkley, NBA on TNT analyst; Shaquille O’Neal, NBA on TNT analyst; Kenny Smith, NBA on TNT analyst and Ernie Johnson, NBA on TNT studio host.

O’Neal on what he is looking forward to with the NBA on TNT studio crew of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith: “I’m looking forward to hanging out with two legends…Ernie (Johnson) and Charles (Barkley).”

O’Neal on Dwight Howard’s situation in Orlando: “I’m going to keep an eye on the Orlando situation (with Dwight Howard).  I’m anxious to see if they’ll make the same mistake twice (in trading a young center like they did with O’Neal early in his career).”

O’Neal on the Oklahoma City Thunder: “I think they are a little bit too young.  If everyone can learn their roles, they can make it deep in the playoffs, but I don’t see them making it to the Finals.”
Barkley: “They are one of the four best teams in the West”
Smith: I think the Thunder have a legitmate chance to be (in the Finals).  This could be their breakthrough year because of the shortened season.  Most teams are trying to figure out who their top six or seven guys are…they know who their top guys are in Oklahoma City.”

O’Neal on the condensed off-season and upcoming shortened season: “I like it because it causes some drama.  We are sitting back watching who is getting traded, which team is doing what.  I like that they are rushing it because we all love to watch the game and it’s like the TNT slogan, ‘we know drama.’”

Smith on how the shortened season affects teams making a late season playoff push: “I think with the shortened season, you won’t have those typical teams who make the late season run because they’ll be running out of time.  You used to have a 30 game window after All-Star (Weekend) for teams to get going and now that window is so short.”
Barkley: “There are two types of teams…teams trying to win a championship and teams trying to have a good season.  The teams trying to win a championship will be pacing themselves.  We know who the best teams are and they are just trying to stay healthy and get to the playoffs.”

O’Neal on what the Magic need to do to help Dwight Howard: “They should show him some respect and get him another dominate player.  If you look at the history of the league, most (successful) teams have had a definite one-two punch.  Right now in Orlando, you have a one-punch and no one can do it by themselves.”
Smith: “This is a critical time and you have to include him into the situation to make him feel comfortable.  He is their ‘LeBron James’ and if he walks out of the arena (to another team) 7,000 fans might walk out with him.  So you have to include him in all of the conversations and not alienate him.”

Barkley on the Houston Rockets: “The Rockets are not a contender.  They are the third best team in Texas (after the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs).”

Barkley on the New York Knicks: “The Knicks are going to be better with Tyson Chandler but they’ve got a couple of issues.  I know Tyson Chandler is going to play defense and rebound the ball but those other guys have to play defense and rebound the ball or else Chandler is going to be in foul trouble all the time.  (Head coach) Mike D’Antoni has a great system but every point guard can’t run that system.”

Smith on Golden St. Warriors guard Stephen Curry and their playoff chances:  “Curry is great young talent.  You leave him open and he’s a light’s out shooter.  He’s an underrated passer.  He’s tough.  He’s a legitimate starting guard for the next 10 years in the NBA.”

O’Neal on the Warriors’ playoff chances:  “With a shortened season, anything is possible.  They are great from the perimeter so who knows.  A couple games they may get hot and a couple games they may not.  They are a very exciting team to watch especially at home.”

Barkley on Dwight Howard’s situation in Orlando:  “Dwight’s a great player, a great guy.  Everyone has been unfair to (Magic GM) Otis Smith to a certain degree, he doesn’t want Dwight Howard to leave.  They made a bunch of trades to try and get him some help but it didn’t work.”

Barkley on who he thinks is the best player in the NBA:  “I have said for the last three years that LeBron (James) was the best player in the NBA.  I had to take that back because he didn’t play like the best player in the Finals.  If I had to start my franchise today, I would start it with Dwight Howard.”

O’Neal on the Boston Celtics this year and Jermaine O’Neal as their only legit center:  “(Head coach) Doc (Rivers) does a good job of managing the bodies and Paul (Pierce) loves the bench.   I think he (Jermaine O’Neal) will be fine.  He is a guy that can play inside and outside.  I look forward to them being in the top of the East (Conference) and in the Finals.”

Barkley on the Celtics this year:  “They are one team that is going to be coasting through the regular season.  They won the world championship, they have a terrific coach.  I am probably going to pick them as my favorite in the Eastern Conference.” 

Kenny on the New Orleans Hornets trade with the L.A. Clippers vs. the earlier proposed Lakers’ deal:  “It’s a bunch of could be’s and it’s a difficult situation to be in.  I don’t see that much of a difference in the two deals, I think it’s an extra draft pick, but it’s a rebuilding franchise.” 

Barkley on the Hornets’ trade of Chris Paul:  “I think it’s a great trade for the Hornets, to be honest with you.  They weren’t going to win with Chris Paul…What they gave up in a good point guard in Chris Paul, they are better off with a couple of good starters and a couple of lottery picks going forward.”

Barkley on who’s better in Los Angeles: The Clippers or the Lakers?:  “I can’t believe I am saying this…there is a legitimate question now as to who is the best team in LA.  The Clippers have all this young talent and now they have a leader in Chris Paul.  He is a great leader.  The Clippers have not had that.  He is going to force them to mature quicker.  It is a fair and legitimate question and you just can’t say the Lakers.  It’s a fair question, who’s the best team in LA, and it might be the Clippers.” 

O’Neal comparing the Clippers and Lakers:  “(The Clippers) is going to be very exciting to watch, they aren’t the little brother anymore.  They are all grown up and ready to get some respect now.”

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