I received my ballots last week and have until the end of the season to vote. As usual, I'll let you peek at my picks. Several Bulls are receiving recognition for the way the team overcame six losing seasons and a pathetic 0-9 start to forge the third-best record in the Eastern Conference and their first winning season in seven years.
After giving my MVP vote to O'Neal, here's how I voted for the others:
*Top rookie: Ben Gordon (Bulls).
*Top coach: Skiles (Bulls).
*Top sixth man: Gordon.
*Most improved player: Bobby Simmons (Clippers).
*Top defender: Ben Wallace (Pistons).
*Top executive: Paxson (Bulls) and Pat Riley (Heat).
*All-NBA first team: O'Neal, Nash, Duncan, Kevin Garnett (Timberwolves) and Dwyane Wade (Heat).
*All-defensive first team: O'Neal, Wallace, Garnett, Larry Hughes (Wizards) and Bruce Bowen (Spurs).
**All-rookie first team: Gordon, Emeka Okafor (Bobcats), Dwight Howard (Magic), Luol Deng (Bulls) and Andre Iguodala (76ers).
Several of my colleagues are joining me in adding Bulls Chris Duhon and Andres Nocioni to the all-rookie second team. I might be the only guy voting for Bulls reserve Tyson Chandler to make the all-defensive second team, but you'll be surprised how many votes Skiles and Paxson will get for their respective honors.
is cleveland serious? tim legler? wow. (shakes head)RUMOR MILL
**TV analysts Kenny Smith, Tim Legler and Greg Anthony are among the candidates new Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert will consider to replace Jim Paxson as operations chief if he fires Paxson as rumored. But if Gilbert gets Michigan State's Tom Izzo or former Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders as the new coach, they would have general manager powers.