1. Los Angeles Lakers. Still rolling along without hitting any speedbumps. 2. Cleveland Cavaliers. They're making hay while they've still got LeBron.
3. Boston Celtics. Defending champions hanging tough and playing hot.
4. Phoenix Suns. Come to town this week to face the Hornets. Will Shaq sit or play?
5. Orlando Magic. They're playing "super," but you have to wonder if it'll last.
26. Washington Wizards. Coaching change won't help very much.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves. Team should consider retail sales in Target Center as well.
28. Memphis Grizzlies. Lost their identity when Pau Gasol was traded to Lakers.
29. Los Angeles Clippers. A very, very, very close race to the lowest spot.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder. Watching back-to-back games last week was pure torture.
FROM BEYOND THE ARC
3-POINTERS FROM THE WEST
Point 1: If Lakers center Andrew Bynum continues his trend of getting hurt, backup center Chris Mihm is ready. Mihm has sat at the end of the Los Angeles bench this season and waited his turn. "I still have the best years of my career ahead," Mihm told The Orange County Register. "I fought a long time to get back on this court and be part of this team." Mihm has battled back from a chronic ankle injury.
Point 2: An MRI exam and CT scan of Bynum's right foot shows a small bone spur had chipped off the foot causing pain and inflammation. Bynum, who missed most of last season with a leg injury, suffered his latest setback Tuesday night in the Lakers' win over New Jersey. He's the Lakers' third-leading scorer (11.5) and second-leading rebounder (8.9).
Point 3: Count enigmatic Memphis center Darko Milicic as the latest possible NBA defector for Europe. The 7-footer from Serbia will be a free agent in 2010, and his mind is now over the pond. "A lot of days I think about that," Milicic told The Memphis Commercial Appeal. "Because the only way to be me is in Europe. I don't want to be a defensive player the rest of my career. It's not really what I want to do." Milicic believes his offensive skills would be showcased overseas.
3-POINTERS FROM THE EAST
Point 1: Former Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal says he has no hard feelings leaving the team for which he won an NBA title, nor any qualms about his friendship with Dwyane Wade. "You've got to understand you can be friends without communicating all the time," O'Neal told The Miami Herald before the Suns played the Heat last week. "He has family, I have family, I've got work, I've got school, so it ain't like we're going to call each other once or twice a week."
Point 2: Add television analyst Charles Barkley to the growing number of fans growing weary of speculation where LeBron James' next career stop might be. "If I was LeBron James, I would shut the hell up," Barkley said on a radio show last week. "I'm a big LeBron fan. He's a stud. You gotta give him his props. I'm getting so annoyed he's talking about what he's going to do in two years. I think it's disrespectful to the game. I think it's disrespectful to the Cavaliers." Said LeBron: "He's stupid. That's all I've got to say about that."
Point 3: In Charlotte, there are questions about the long-term future of the Bobcats. "It seems like to me that within the next five years, (owner Bob Johnson) will either sell the franchise for someone to move or move it himself," sports marketing consultant Max Muhleman told The Charlotte Observer. Muhleman was the consultant who helped the city land the Hornets and later the Carolina Panthers.