*Lawrence Pedowitz, the chief architect of the internal investigation by the NBA into its referee system and gambling, said he would push to ban the traditional card games on charter flights if he owned a team. Chances of it actually happening: somewhere between zero and zero. Millionaire vs. millionaire at 30,000 feet is such an ingrained part of the subculture that even Commissioner David Stern has little interest in the crackdown at the very time the league is trying to rid itself of the Tim Donaghy stench. "Larry Pedowitz would be a difficult owner for me because players of all sports have been playing cards in the back of buses and planes forever," Stern said. Pedowitz, when asked if he heard how much money is involved in these games: "No, I did not hear specific numbers. But I gathered these were significant amounts of money."
*So what that the Kings soon open the season on the road for the fifth year in a row. It's bad timing to be without the suspended Brad Miller for meetings with Al Jefferson and the Timberwolves (Oct. 29), Dwight Howard and the Magic (Nov. 1) and maybe even Samuel Dalembert and the 76ers (Nov. 3), but you'd much rather hit Philly and Minneapolis now than most any time over the ensuing four or five months. Less chance of weather-related travel headaches, greater chance of a normal routine. It's not overwhelming competition either: Timberwolves, Heat, Magic and 76ers with only one back-to-back. And the first two opponents when the Kings get to Arco are the Grizzlies and Timberwolves. If they say the schedule hurts their chances for a good start, it's just complaining.
*The Warriors are retaining the option to extend the 30-game suspension of guard Monta Ellis, possibly all the way to voiding the six-year, $66 million deal he signed in July. Golden State would only throw that switch if Ellis struggles mightily to recover from an ankle injury that is now expected to sideline him until December or January, and even then would be a tough call, probably in summer 2009 at the earliest. He turns 23 next weekend, and players have come back from much worse. It's just that the W's don't want to be on the hook for $66 mil for damaged goods, since Ellis violated the contract by riding a moped and then lied to management by claiming he got hurt in a pickup game. In the unlikely event the deal is voided, Ellis would be waived but not go back to his previous status as a restricted free agent in a negotiating advantage for the Warriors. He would be unrestricted.
*Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert told reporters at media day that speculation LeBron James might leave as a free agent in summer 2010 is "an insult to the city." Thank goodness Gilbert figured it out! Debate on James' future is one giant rip job on Cleveland. Yes, that must be it. It certainly couldn't be that people talk a lot about trade possibilities and hiring and firing possibilities and free-agent possibilities in sports. Good thing Miami isn't having to go through it with Dwyane Wade, Toronto isn't having to go through it with Chris Bosh, Los Angeles didn't have to go through it with Kobe Bryant -- and Sacramento didn't have to go through it with Chris Webber.
*The issue is not that Elgin Baylor got the gate after 22 years as a Clippers exec. It's part of the business and four or five times longer than he would have lasted most any other place. And it's not that Baylor out and Mike Dunleavy in as GM represents any real change. Dunleavy had been doing the job without the title for years, as everyone around the league knew and the media reported at the time. It comes down to the notion that Baylor may go to court to get some restitution when you'd have a tough time finding someone more deserving of a golden parachute after decades as one of the few dignified parts of an organization where common sense goes to die. Baylor had his share of bad moves, but he also took countless hits for personnel decisions actually made by owner Donald Sterling and continued to grit his teeth in the name of loyalty. With millions of opportunities, he never outed The Donald.
*Because there's no such thing as too much Vlade Divac: Humanitarian Organization Divac, his Illinois-based operation to continue his dedicated work to help others around the world, made a video mocking his reputation for flopping. Fun stuff, good memories. HOD also has an actual tribute to a meaningful career. Be sure not to miss the quick shots of the boyish Divac in his early years in the NBA and one or two glimpses of Vlade sans beard. (It probably took 15 minutes to grow back full.) Both videos naturally made YouTube.