NBA on TNT Previews the 2011-12 Season

From TNT Sports –

Notesfrom the 2011 NBA on TNT Season Tip Off Conference Call
TNT will tip off the 2011-12 NBA season with a Christmas Day game featuring the Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks on Sunday, Dec. 25 at Noon (ET).  A special hour-longedition of TNT NBA Tip-Off presented by AutoTrader.comprecedes the season’s first game at 11a.m. (ET) featuring host ErnieJohnson alongside analysts CharlesBarkley, Kenny Smith,and the  TNT debut of Shaquille O’Neal
Participants:  Charles Barkley, NBA onTNT analyst; Shaquille O’Neal, NBA on TNT analyst; Kenny Smith, NBA onTNT analyst and Ernie Johnson, NBA on TNT studio host.
O’Neal on what he is lookingforward to with the NBA on TNT studio crew of Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkleyand Kenny Smith: “I’mlooking forward to hanging out with two legends…Ernie (Johnson) andCharles (Barkley).”
O’Neal on Dwight Howard’ssituation in Orlando: “I’m going to keep an eyeon the Orlandosituation (with Dwight Howard).  I’m anxious to see if they’ll makethe same mistake twice (in trading a young center like they did withO’Neal early in his career).”
O’Neal on the Oklahoma City Thunder: “I think they are a little bittoo young.  If everyone can learn their roles, they can make it deep in theplayoffs, but I don’t see them making it to the Finals.”
Barkley: “They are one of the four bestteams in the West”
Smith: I think the Thunder have a legitmate chance to be(in the Finals).  This could be their breakthrough year because of theshortened season.  Most teams are trying to figure out who their top six orseven guys are…they know who their top guys are in Oklahoma City.”
O’Neal on the condensedoff-season and upcoming shortened season: “I like it because it causes some drama.  Weare sitting back watching who is getting traded, which team is doing what.  Ilike that they are rushing it because we all love to watch the game andit’s like the TNT slogan, ‘we know drama.’”
Smith on how the shortened seasonaffects teams making a late season playoff push: “I think with the shortened season, youwon’t have those typical teams who make the late season run becausethey’ll be running out of time.  You used to have a 30 game window afterAll-Star (Weekend) for teams to get going and now that window is soshort.”
Barkley: “There are two types ofteams…teams trying to win a championship and teams trying to have a goodseason.  The teams trying to win a championship will be pacing themselves.  Weknow who the best teams are and they are just trying to stay healthy and get tothe playoffs.”
O’Neal on what the Magic needto do to help Dwight Howard: “They should show him some respect and get himanother dominate player.  If you look at the history of the league, most(successful) teams have had a definite one-two punch.  Right now in Orlando, you have aone-punch and no one can do it by themselves.”
Smith: “This is a critical time and you have toinclude him into the situation to make him feel comfortable.  He is their ‘LeBronJames’ and if he walks out of the arena (to another team) 7,000 fansmight walk out with him.  So you have to include him in all of theconversations and not alienate him.”
Barkley on the Houston Rockets: “The Rockets are not acontender.  They are the third best team in Texas (after the Dallas Mavericks and SanAntonio Spurs).”
Barkley on the New York Knicks: “The Knicks are going to bebetter with Tyson Chandler but they’ve got a couple of issues.  I knowTyson Chandler is going to play defense and rebound the ball but those otherguys have to play defense and rebound the ball or else Chandler is going to be in foul trouble allthe time.  (Head coach) Mike D’Antoni has a great system but every pointguard can’t run that system.”
Smith on Golden St. Warriors guardStephen Curry and their playoff chances:  “Curry is great young talent.  Youleave him open and he’s a light’s out shooter.  He’s anunderrated passer.  He’s tough.  He’s a legitimatestarting guard for the next 10 years in the NBA.”
O’Neal on the Warriors’playoff chances: “With a shortened season, anything is possible.  They are great fromthe perimeter so who knows.  A couple games they may get hot and a couplegames they may not.  They are a very exciting team to watch especially athome.”
Barkley on Dwight Howard’ssituation in Orlando:  “Dwight’s a greatplayer, a great guy.  Everyone has been unfair to (Magic GM) Otis Smith toa certain degree, he doesn’t want Dwight Howard to leave.  They madea bunch of trades to try and get him some help but it didn’t work.”
Barkley on who he thinks is the bestplayer in the NBA: “I have said for the last three years that LeBron (James) was the bestplayer in the NBA.  I had to take that back because he didn’t playlike the best player in the Finals.  If I had to start my franchise today,I would start it with Dwight Howard.”
O’Neal on the Boston Celtics this year and JermaineO’Neal as their only legit center:  “(Head coach) Doc (Rivers) does a goodjob of managing the bodies and Paul (Pierce) loves the bench.   Ithink he (Jermaine O’Neal) will be fine.  He is a guy that can playinside and outside.  I look forward to them being in the top of the East(Conference) and in the Finals.”
Barkley on the Celtics this year:  “They are one team that isgoing to be coasting through the regular season.  They won the worldchampionship, they have a terrific coach.  I am probably going to pickthem as my favorite in the Eastern Conference.” 
Kenny on the New Orleans Hornets trade with the L.A. Clippers vs. the earlier proposedLakers’ deal: “It’s a bunch of could be’s and it’s a difficultsituation to be in.  I don’t see that much of a difference in thetwo deals, I think it’s an extra draft pick, but it’s a rebuildingfranchise.” 
Barkley on the Hornets’ tradeof Chris Paul: “I think it’s a great trade for the Hornets, to be honest withyou.  They weren’t going to win with Chris Paul…What they gaveup in a good point guard in Chris Paul, they are better off with a couple ofgood starters and a couple of lottery picks going forward.”
Barkley on who’s better in Los Angeles: The Clippersor the Lakers?:  “Ican’t believe I am saying this…there is a legitimate question nowas to who is the best team in LA.  The Clippers have all this young talentand now they have a leader in Chris Paul.  He is a great leader.  TheClippers have not had that.  He is going to force them to maturequicker.  It is a fair and legitimate question and you just can’tsay the Lakers.  It’s a fair question, who’s the best team inLA, and it might be the Clippers.” 

O’Neal comparing the Clippersand Lakers: “(The Clippers) is going to be very exciting to watch, they aren’tthe little brother anymore.  They are all grown up and ready to get somerespect now.”


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