The Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith, perhaps finding the charms of Real Madrid v. Toronto elusive, gushes “Finally, an exhibition game to get excited about. Is it possible Shawn Marion and Andrei Kirilenko will be traded for one another at halftime Monday when the Jazz plays the Suns? Could Kirilenko and Marion play against their former teams in the second half?”

Kirilenko would be a terrific fit for the team. He’s taller, he offers more of a defensive presence inside and he’s practically screaming for a milder coach, such as D’Antoni, after putting up with hard-edged Jerry Sloan.

Marion, meanwhile, would give the Jazz an athletic complement to inside/outside big men Boozer and Okur and a defender who can guard a shooting guard, currently a big weakness. Marion could make the Jazz a legitimate championship contender. How could Utah pass up the chance?

The initial hang-up in the talks was said to be the Jazz’s lack of interest in backup point guard Marcus Banks, a frequent subject of trade talks.

Marion had 18 points and 20 rebounds in 29 minutes Saturday against the Hornets. He’ll continue to play, though this deal makes too much sense for both teams not to happen.

San Antonio’s Greg Popovich hails his Panathinaikos counterpart Zelimir Obradovic
as “the best coach in Europe at this stage and one of the best in the world.” Obradovic’s c.v. is certainly impressive, but surely he’ll need to win some additional silverware before he can be considered as viable an NBA candidate as Reggie Theus.