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Monday Afternoon Rockets/NBA Links

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The Cavaliers make only one trip to New York City this year, and so the media has to get all of its "zOMG LEBRON2KNICKS2010" talk in one weekend. And, to his credit, Lebron James has done a good job of dismissing premature talk of free agency. Oh, wait, no he didn't - he plays with the "rumors" as always. But he did throw a wrench in the national media's (and Donnie Walsh's) plans for the Knicks in 2010.

"Right now, I visualize playing with a lot of guys in the NBA. There are a lot of great individual basketball players that I would love to be alongside of and try to contend for an NBA championship.

"I think at the end of the day, a max deal or anything like that doesn't really matter to me at the end of the day. It's all about winning for me. So I've put myself in a position that when that day comes next summer, I want to win, and if I feel like the team is capable of winning, I'll make my decision like that."

So maybe he won't sign a deal with New York? Blasphemy! How could anyone - James included - suggest that the greatest player in the NBA maybe sorta wouldn't want to play for the Knicks?!

Really, this is something that has befuddled me for a few years now: Why would James go to the Knicks? Yeah, there are a few good players (Lee's great, Robinson's a quality player, Gallinari looks good), but after those three or four players, it's all crap. And this idea of endorsements attracting James to New York seems to me to be total fantasy.

Admittedly, Cleveland probably isn't the best place for James to play out his career, but it's better than the Knicks right now. And this revelation - even if it isn't totally serious (and I doubt it is) - that perhaps a max contract isn't the most important thing to Lebron James makes things much more interesting in this coming summer.

More links after the jump

Alright Dream Shakers, let's play a game: guess which team is A, and which is B. No peeking.

Team A:

O-Rating: 109.6 (7th)

D-Rating: 105.5 (14th)

Team B:

O-Rating: 108.2 (13th)

D-Rating: 100.4 (7th)

Here's a hint: both teams will be playing in Dallas on Tuesday. Okay, so it's obviously Dallas and Houston. But here's the odd thing: A is Houston, and B is Dallas.

Dallas has been surprisingly good on defense so far this season. Houston has been surprisingly great on offense. What's up with that?

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The Allen Iverson Experience in Memphis might be over before it even really began. Wow.

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Sacramento beat Utah by 5 in SLC this weekend. And Jazz fans are going crazy (scroll to the end). I, for one, take much joy in their suffering.

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San Antonio isn't off to quite the start that many (myself included) expected, and that might continue to happen. Tony Parket is out for a week with an ankle sprain.

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Feigen at the Chronicle explores Carl Landry's hot start to the season and his growth over the last two years.

"This is an opportunity for me to grow as a player," Landry, 26, said. "This is my third year and usually the year a player becomes who he is going to become for the rest of his career. I want to grow in all aspects of the game and be that player."

Landry has become an integral part to the team, and the Rockets are going to face a tough decision about him over the offseason.

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For those of you wondering what happened to them, Mike Harris and Garrett Temple are now part of the RGV Vipers.

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NBA.com thinks Carmelo Anthony leads the MVP race at the start of the season, but they include Ariza in the hunt:

Admittedly this is a sentimental pick that likely will be out of the running next week. But The Race is absolutely flummoxed that the Rockets have three victories so far; it seemed a lock that they would be 1-4 or 0-5 at this point. But Ariza has more than done his share to carry a very average team to wins over Portland, Utah and Golden State, averaging 20 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists. This after being considered a defensive stalwart while performing in Kobe's immense shadow. Hats off.

I've really liked Ariza so far, but I'm not so sure he's even the Rockets' MVP. What do you think?