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Coast To Coast

December 30, 2007|Mark Heisler

Merry Christmas, but sit down a second . . .

Chicago General Manger John Paxson, who built his program with the kind of scrappy players he and Coach Scott Skiles were, just fired Skiles 25 games into the season.

Making it perfect, the excitable Paxson did it Christmas Eve. Skiles who took the 30-52 team he inherited to 49-33 last season, took it as liberation, making it easy by giving up the rest of his contract that ran through 2009.

Unfortunately, scrappiness takes you only so far, which is why Paxson and everyone in Chicago rue the moves that brought Ben Wallace and Tyrus Thomas and traded Tyson Chandler and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Where's the love?

With Miami officially in panic mode, Heat officials are looking for a point guard, which their starter, Jason Williams, doesn't take as a compliment.

"We're like some high-paid prostitutes anyway in this league," Williams said. "They just use and get rid of us whenever they want."

Williams is making $8.9 million this season, the last on his contract. If he manages to prostitute himself next season, it'll be for a lot less.

Sam Mitchell badge of courage

Toronto GM Bryan Colangelo had to rehire Coach Sam Mitchell after the Raptors overcame last season's 3-9 start and went 44-26 the rest of the way.

However, Mitchell is thought to be a reluctant convert to Colangelo's Phoenix-style offense and fondness for European players.

Colangelo recently told a player to go to Europe to "work on his skills and come back more in tune with where the game is going."

"I feel insulted when I hear that," Mitchell said. "I don't see NBA players wanting to get out of their contract to play in Europe. . . . Nothing against Europe, but this is our game."

In other words, Mitchell would be well-advised to finish 44-26 again.

New era in Seattle or wherever

On paper, Seattle briefly had one of the most promising offensive teams no one ever got to see with Rashard Lewis and Kevin Durant, two of the game's best-shooting big men, alongside Ray Allen. Instead, the SuperSonics, in budget mode until they find a new home in Seattle or Oklahoma City, let Lewis leave and traded Allen to Boston.

"They didn't give it a chance," Allen said. " . . . They wanted to have their own team and their own guys."

The joke going around is that executive of the year is between Minnesota VP Kevin McHale and Seattle GM Sam Presti, for rebuilding the Celtics.

How low can they go?

After melting themselves into a puddle, the Timberwolves are now concerned about . . . media coverage?

Rather than being grateful they still have any coverage, Coach Randy Wittman set aside a rare victory over Indiana to complain about a front-page story by the Minneapolis Star Tribune's Jerry Zgoda , asking if the Timberwolves are one of the worst teams in history.

"There might be, Jerry, an assist from you today," Wittman said. " . . . These kids have feelings too. We all are human beings and have feelings and stuff. That hurts and that hurts them. I hope that's not why they played like this. Now we just have to keep going. This is a step in the right direction."

So, he owes Zgoda a vote of thanks?

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