Weekly Countdown: An early look at what may be in store in 2008-09
I have the right to predict what may happen next season, even at this early date. And I have the right to change my mind in the months ahead, based on pending events and an unexpected leap in wisdom.
(p.s.: The one GM who should be recognized is
Let me add the obvious statement here -- that I may be entirely wrong in this prediction. There is another opinion widespread in the league that Duncan is worn down by having averaged 93 games over the last eight extended seasons. In which case, can Kobe and
15. New Jersey
15. Oklahoma City
Another way would be for James to play for the Knicks ... but there will be plenty of time for that talk over the next two years.
I'll tell you what I've learned on this subject. Before signing Hawks sixth man
"But that was the starting point,'' Higgins said. "We could have got the deal [that Childress received]. ... If I'd said $10 million [annually] for three years, they would have said yes. They wanted him. They said, 'What's it going to take? Give us a number.' ''
But Higgins couldn't persuade his client to go for it. Azubuike is a 24-year-old who had been ignored in the 2005 draft and began his pro career with a couple of seasons in the D-League before earning 122 games the last two years with Golden State. He had worked too hard to reach the NBA, and he didn't want to abandon that goal now.
"You get to the level of money they're talking about,'' Higgins said of Olympiakos, "and it gets pretty tough to look the other way. They're saying, 'Whatever it's going to take.' ... I said to Kelenna, 'Just give me a number, I don't care if it's $10 million or $15 million [per year], just give me something I can take to them and then we'll see.'
"He just said, 'I can't, I can't go.' I tried to tell him about the money and the difference between what he could make here, and if he were to go over there they would give him an out after every year. But he's too young. If he was in the league for maybe three or four more years it might have been different, but he's too young and he's fought too hard to get to where he wanted to be.''
Instead, Azubuike signed a three-year offer sheet with the Clippers worth $9 million. On Thursday, the Warriors matched the offer in order to retain him.
This is why I don't view the Childress signing as the beginning of a trend, much the same as no larger trend was created when
It's another thing entirely for Europeans playing in the NBA to return overseas for big money, as in the recent cases of
For the Americans, however, look at it this way: Remember a decade ago when a lot of people -- led by
In addition, there are scant few clubs in Europe with the wherewithal to outbid the NBA for players like Azubuike or Childress. Those rich clubs are Olympiakos and Panathinaikos of Greece, CSKA Moscow and a few other teams from Russia, Spain, Italy and Turkey -- each reliant on a rich owner who pays the salary out of his own pocket, because no team in Europe has anything close to the revenues to account for a salary like Childress'.
The United States isn't necessarily the preferred nationality overseas, given the fact that European leagues restrict the number of American players on each team. The advantages of the Euro exchange rate won't overcome the fact that a lot of American players are one-dimensional and lacking the versatility of play mandated by Euroleague basketball.
For all of these reasons, Childress and his agents,
The harsh alternative is that the team won't win and he'll take the blame. But give him credit for taking on a level of risk that other Americans wouldn't dare assume. And give credit to his agents, who (via
You sound like someone I know who works for the Trail Blazers. I'll tell you what I told him: Just because I quote an athlete telling me that he's healthy, how does that mean I'm vouching for him? While I understand your frustration, my best suggestion is that you take your complaints to the franchise that gave him the $18 million remaining on his contract. You won't have to travel far.
It stands to reason that you're hoping another team doesn't buy "his act,'' because if Miles turns out to be healthier than you think, then it will cost your Blazers $9 million in cap space. On this count, again, the Blazers can blame no one but themselves.
The one thing I can tell you about Miles is that, so long as he continues to perform well in workouts, he will surely receive a minimal offer from an NBA team to play next year. If he reinjures his knee, his new bosses won't have to pay him; if for some reason they don't like his act, they can afford to waive him. This week Miles began playing full-court basketball in Chicago under the supervision of athletic trainer
No one. That's the easy answer. No reigning lottery team is going to win the championship next season, though Portland may get to the Finals in a few years.
The losers most likely to realize the biggest improvement are, in order, the Heat, Bucks, Knicks and Pacers. As a result, the bottom half of the East should be stronger than the same tier in the West next season.
A majority of these catastrophes must take place: The opponent shoots a high percentage from the three-point line and doesn't turn the ball over, while the Americans go cold from the perimeter, suffer foul trouble and lose lone big man