Wearing out his welcome
The Timberwolves' visit to Atlanta on Monday just might be their last look at temperamental Josh Smith in a Hawks uniform.
Smith becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer, and the Hawks appear to play better without him anyway. They had lost six of seven games before whupping Brooklyn at home Wednesday while Smith was suspended by the team for the game because of an unspecified incident in practice.
The Hawks are 3-0 this season without him and plan to clear all kinds of salary-cap room to make a run at homegrown Dwight Howard next summer, so expect to hear Smith's name all over the place as February's trade deadline approaches.
No more Mr. Nice Guy
First, former Laker Robert Horry publicly criticized Dwight Howard's demeanor, saying the big guy ought to be much more focused and less fun-loving. Then TNT analyst Shaquille O'Neal -- another former Laker himself -- joined in.
"I admit, I was a smiler, but when I stepped on the court. ... I took care of business," O'Neal said. "He's a nice guy, but we don't want to see a nice guy. We want to see him throwing [elbows], making people quit, making coaches complain and make them change the rules. That's what I want to see.
"I agree with Robert Horry: Take the headband off and stop smiling. When you're four games below [.500], there's nothing to smile about."
A look at new-look Nets
The reborn Brooklyn Nets make their first visit to Target Center on Wednesday.
The Nets have stylish new uniforms, a new city and new home and perhaps most important now, a new interim coach in P.J. Carlesimo, who -- more than anything -- is not fired Avery Johnson.
The Nets won seven consecutive games before losing last week at Atlanta, where fans welcomed back former Hawks guard Joe Johnson with chants of "We don't miss you."