Heat/Celtics, Lakers/Rockets on tap for NBA Opening Night

By: 10.26.10  •  41 Comments

Shaquille O'Neal (photo. Chenoa Maxwell)

For you, Monday was either the day before the start of the NBA season, or just the start of another long work week. But for every fringe guy in the League fighting for a job, Monday was Cut Day … The axe fell on Magnum Rolle (Pacers), Marqus Blakely (Clippers), Chris Quinn (76ers), Brian Skinner (Bucks) and his Stupid Beard (Bucks), and Patrick Beverley (Heat), to name a few. But the coldest cut of all was the Blazers getting rid of Jeff Pendergraph. A couple weeks ago, Pendergraph — who stepped up and played some valuable minutes for Portland last year when their big men were falling off like the GS Boyz — was filling in for Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla in a preseason game when he tore up his knee. Pendergraph learned he was out for the season, then learned he was out of a job … Da’Sean Butler getting cut by Miami was kind of harsh in the same way, but then Butler was a long shot to make the team in the first place, with is Final Four knee injury keeping him sidelined … Teams are also finalizing rotations and starting fives. In Boston, it looks like Shaq has beaten out Jermaine O’Neal for the starting center job, which we saw coming a mile away even when J.O. was getting most of the first-unit reps when training camp opened … On the other side of Boston’s Opening Night matchup, Carlos Arroyo won the Heat’s starting PG job. You know the book on Arroyo: He can be good if he’s playing loose and not looking over his shoulder every time he makes a mistake, but if he’s too worried about getting yanked for every turnover it can get ugly. On one hand, having strong>Mario Chalmers lurking in the background could mess with Arroyo’s head; on the other hand, he really doesn’t have to do much more than bring the ball up sometimes and set his feet for open shots … Yao Ming will start in tonight’s Lakers/Rockets game. Hopefully he makes it past the ring ceremony … How banged up are the Nuggets? Shelden Williams will be the Opening Night starting power forward. Remember that as Exhibit M when Carmelo takes his talents to anywhere but Denver … If you haven’t heard, Dwyane Wade wants to drop the “Flash” nickname. We were gonna suggest “Telfon Don,” but maybe we should hold that for Steve Nash. Last week Nash gave an interview in which, citing the Suns’ summer roster turnover, said that if he were “outside this picture and a betting man, I would probably pick us to be outside of the playoffs.” We’re thinking if that was Vince Carter or Terrell Owens, they’d be getting KILLED in the media for throwing their team under the bus. Nash? People just nod their head and agree with him … We’re out like waiting for the season …

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