Ira Winderman, South Florida Sun-Sentinel: "Last season, Dwyane Wade(notes) felt he had to prove himself. This season, the Heat guard merely had to find himself. While 2008-09 was about a recapturing the passion, 2009-10 has been more about settling in as a person. 'Last year,' he says during a break in practice, 'was a different kind of mind-set year for me. I had to score 40 points a game for us to win.' So he did. He led the league in scoring. He finished third in voting for Most Valuable Player. He was first-team All-NBA. This year he barely snuck into the league's top five in scoring. He likely will be omitted from a fair share of MVP ballots. And first-team All-NBA is no guarantee based on what fellow guards Kobe Bryant(notes) and Steve Nash(notes) have accomplished far closer to the top of the standings. And yet there is a calmness in his demeanor, a relaxation in his face that wasn't there a year ago. The start of these NBA playoffs do not feel quite as much like work. 'I don't have to score 40 points a night or prove that I can lead the league in scoring to win ball games,' he says. 'When it's time for me to have big nights scoring, I've done it. And when it's when time for me not to have big nights scoring, I've done it. I enjoy it that way so much more.' If it seems like he is having fun, well, he is. The smile rarely has washed away this season. 'As much as sometimes Coach and them probably don't like it,' he says of the staff and management, 'we've been the same all year, win lose or draw. We're giddy, we laugh, when we win; we're giddy, we laugh, when we lose. I think that's the one thing that's been very consistent, is the brotherhood in the locker room. It never went south.' "
Frank Zicarelli, Toronto Sun: "In the event Chris Bosh(notes) decides to stay, changes need to be made to a roster that failed to make the post-season. Whether it's a tweak here or a major move involving a core piece, Bosh wouldn't go out on a limb, but he did admit that something must be done. 'There has to be changes,' he said, 'only because we didn't make the playoffs. It's not like we're building off success.' During his time in Toronto, the Raptors chose to go with Jose Calderon(notes) over T.J. Ford(notes); they selected Andrea Bargnani(notes) when they could have had Brandon Roy(notes); they brought in Jermaine O'Neal(notes), only to trade him later in the season; they added free agent Hedo Turkoglu(notes). Whatever move was made, the Raptors haven't moved in the right direction."
AP: "Pacers president Larry Bird says he has received calls from people interested in buying and moving the team. Bird adds, however, that despite questions about the franchise's stability he's never heard team owner Herb Simon say he would relocate the club. The Pacers are losing money and team officials have been talking with the city about the $15 million a year it costs the club to operate Conseco Fieldhouse."
Bob Finnan, Port Clinton News-Herald: "Shaquille O'Neal wants to return to the Cavaliers next season, dang gumit. The 7-foot-1 center spoke after the Cavs shootaround Wednesday morning, despite not being in the lineup against the Hawks. While talking to the media, however, he ripped off a colorful string of expletives. Why? Because he was in such a good mood. The 38-year-old center would like to re-sign with the Cavs next year. 'If they want me back, yes, I wouldn't mind,' O'Neal said. 'I'm having a great time. The fans are fabulous. I'm quite impressed with the organization and [Coach Mike] Brown. I'm very, very impressed and surprised how Cleveland would go, [with] me being from a sunny environment. I'm having a fabulous time. I love Richfield. I've had one of the greatest times ever.' "
J.A. Adande, TrueHoop: "Utah Jazz forward Carlos Boozer(notes), who missed the team's final regular season game because of a strained oblique muscle on his right side, said he will play in the team's first playoff game on Saturdayagainst the Denver Nuggets, 'No matter what.' Boozer suffered the injury Tuesday night during Utah's game at Golden State when he attempted a spin move and felt a twinge. He ran back downcourt but couldn't even get off the ground for a rebound attempt, then grabbed his right side."
Jonathan Feigen, Houston Chronicle: "Guard Kyle Lowry(notes), who will be a restricted free agent, said he wanted to find a starting position, but would be happy if the Rockets match any offer he receives as general manager Daryl Morey said he plans. 'I want to be a starter,' Lowry said. 'I want to play. I want a chance to be that guy. Playing behind Aaron [Brooks] this year was great. I think we work together well. I want a chance to expand my game and experience new things. But I'd be happy to be back.' Brooks said he would not let Lowry leave. 'He'd lose his mind if he left me,' Brooks said. 'There's opportunities out there. I'm going to keep talking to him and keep bugging him. Hopefully, he makes the right decision.' Hearing this, Lowry said: 'That's my guy. Honestly, I love that guy like my brother.' "
Joe Freeman, The Oregonian: "A defining moment in the evolution of Nicolas Batum(notes) came in a solemn and quiet basketball gymnasium in Tualatin a little less than one year ago today. Shortly after the Trail Blazers' resurgent season had ended with a disappointing first-round playoff loss to the Houston Rockets, assistant coach Monty Williams sat Batum down for a one-on-one chat at the team's practice facility. Williams, who in the past two seasons has forged a close relationship with the young French forward, looked Batum dead in the eyes and painted a painful picture: Throughout the Blazers' six-game playoff series, Batum had been soft. He had looked scared and appeared lost. He averaged just 2.0 points and was benched for the deciding Game 6 of the series. By no means had Batum's better-than-imagined rookie season been erased, but it had been slightly stained as he showed his age and inexperience in allowing himself to get bullied and overwhelmed by the intensity of the moment. 'It was a heated conversation,' Williams said. 'And it was one-sided heated. I had to do what I do. Guys don't always want to hear the truth. But he's one of the guys that does. It bothers him but he accepts it. So we talked about it then and we left it alone. I didn't want it to be something that we dragged into the next year.' "
Gary Washburn and Julian Benbow, Boston Globe: "Leave it to Charles Barkley to keep it brutally honest about the Celtics-Heat series. Barkley likes the Celtics to advance to the second round of the playoffs because their graybeards will have just enough. The Hall of Famer and TNT analyst said the Celtics' age cannot be ignored and they are a shell of the team that won the 2008 title. But he still likes them against Miami. 'I think the Celtics, they are going to be fine the first round of the playoffs,' said Barkley. 'I think their age is taking its toll, but they are going to be energized and fresh for the first round of the playoffs. They're gonna get that rush. They know that everybody has been saying they've been saving up all season. So the first round of the playoffs, they are going to be ready to go. I don't think they are going to get older or slow down until later in the playoffs.' "
Julian Garcia, New York Daily News: "When the final horn blew on the Nets' season on Wednesday night in Miami, it signified the end of Kiki Vandeweghe's time as interim coach. How long will it be before Vandeweghe's reign as the Nets' general manager ends, too? That is one of the biggest questions surrounding the Nets as they head into an offseason that is all about rebuilding and making sure they do not come close to duplicating the disastrous season that was 2009-10. Vandeweghe, 51, is the final year of his contract, which runs through June, and there have been indications that he will not be back. Team president Rod Thorn and CEO Brett Yormark have met several times with incoming owner Mikhail Prokhorov, but Vandeweghe has not. Prokhorov also endorsed Thorn and Yormark in an e-mail to The New York Times two weeks ago but did not mention Vandeweghe in it. Before he takes over the franchise, Prokhorov needs to be approved by the league's board of governors, which cannot happen until the site of the Nets' planned arena in Brooklyn is clear of all residents and businesses. That delay may buy time for Vandeweghe, who wants to stay with the Nets."
Jeff Caplan, ESPNDallas.com: "Jason Kidd wasn't thrilled with the way things were going as this season progressed, but he still believed the Dallas Mavericks, as constructed prior to the All-Star break trade, had a chance to do big things. But, he said, 'It was going to be tough. I thought we still had the pieces before the trade, but we just couldn't get it going on a consistent basis, and on top of that we were always fighting from behind.' Kidd's individual game, particularly his scoring, has soared since the trade that sent Josh Howard(notes) to Washington and brought in Caron Butler(notes), Brendan Haywood(notes) and DeShawn Stevenson(notes). The team has done pretty well, too, going 23-7 since the trade heading into playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. 'With the trade everybody got to maybe relax for a minute and we didn't have time to really ask, "Where would you like the ball?"' Kidd said. 'We just had to play, so it was just play basketball and I think everybody got to do what they love to do and that was just play. ... We're playing. We start the game off just playing basketball, everybody gets to touch it, run and try to explore and try to get an easy basket off the bat.' "