Dennis Johnson's omission from the Hall of Fame has been one of the greatest snubs of the past 11 years. Sadly, his death at age 52 on Thursday may be what pushes him to enshrinement in Springfield, Mass. Johnson wasn't appreciated enough while he was here: The former point guard for Seattle, Phoenix and Boston made five all-star teams, won three championships rings -- and was the 1979 NBA Finals MVP -- and appeared on the all-defensive team nine times. . . .

The only reason Mike Bibby will finish the season with Sacramento is because the Kings didn't want Drew Gooden and Cleveland couldn't find a third team to provide the draft picks or expiring contracts it desired. Bibby said he didn't know if the trade talks would affect his decision to opt out of the contract that pays him $28 million over the next two seasons, but he believes a breakup is inevitable. "I think they're trying to go in a different direction, and I don't think I'm involved in that direction," he said. . . .

The race for the final two playoff spots in the West is between Denver, Golden State, New Orleans, Minnesota and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nuggets should be able to secure a playoff spot. The other team to keep an eye on is the Hornets, who were hit hard by injuries in the first half of the season but are prepared to make a push with Chris Paul and David West back in the lineup. "Our second half is going to be great," Paul said recently. "Some teams kicked us while we was down, but we're going to try to get them back. We feel like we have a lot to prove." . . .

The oddest trade deadline deal had to be Philadelphia sending Alan Henderson to Utah for the right to swap second-round picks. He essentially got traded for nothing. The deal looked even stranger when it was reported that the Jazz might waive him.