It appears that the Phoenix Suns' back up point guard drama is about to be solved. Goran Dragic said he wouldn't leave his European club to join the Suns and the Suns they felt they could get him to Phoenix anyway. It appears that the Suns won out as Dragic reached a buyout agreement with Spanish club Tau Ceramica and is en route to Phoenix to sign a contract to play for the Suns this season. Dragic has been pegged 34 year old Steve Nash's back up this season and the Suns see him as the franchise's point guard of the future. Although he was their second round pick, they had considered taking him with the 15th pick and they had him ranked as the 2nd best point guard in the draft, right behind Derrick Rose. The Suns feel they have something very special in Dragic. He is a lefthander who is 6 feet 4 and 181 pounds with a 37 1/2-inch vertical leap and a 6-foot-7 wingspan. His reported 4 year deal is expected to start at nearly $2 million, using part of the Suns' midlevel exception. The Suns' payroll now exceeds the luxury-tax threshold, something they have been trying to avoid for the past few years and the reason they were eager to give up the draft pick that became Rajon Rondo.
The US Women's team beat New Zealand 96-60 on Sunday to stay perfect in the Olympic games. They have been absolutely dominant, winning their five pool play games by an average of 43.0 points. The elimination rounds begin on Tuesday night with a matchup against South Korea, who finished fourth in Group A with a 2-3 record. After that, the U.S. will likely face Becky Hammon and Russia, who are 4-1 after pool play, in the semifinals on Thursday. And if the U.S. gets through Russia, they should face Australia, the only other unbeaten team in the competition, in the gold medal game on Saturday, Aug. 23.
It's official. The Philadelphia 76ers re-signed Andre Iguodala on Sunday to a six-year contract worth a reported $80 million. The Sixers will be greatly improved this season with Elton Brand to play alongside Iguodala. The Atlantic division won't be a pushover any more as every team the Celtics will face in their division, except maybe the New Jersey Nets have greatly improved.
There has been quite a bit of interest in the 7-foot-2 center on the Iranian National team named Hamed Ehadadi. In response, the league office has sent a letter to its 30 teams instructing that they are forbidden to even discuss a contract with Ehadadi. The NBA is applying to the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control for a license that would allow teams to negotiate with the Iranian center but until then, no franchise is allowed to do so. When asked if he had been in contact with NBA teams Ehadadi said that he had talked to two or three. One team believed to be interested is the Memphis Grizzlies. In Iran’s four losses in Pool B in Olympic play, Ehadadi has averaged 16.5 points, 10 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. The Iranian basketball federation wants him to go to a team where he will play and not sit on the bench. They feel that those conditions would be very important for Iranian basketball and also for Khadadi. Sounds like the conditions that were put on teams wanting to draft Yi last year.
There are several rumors floating around that the Cavs could be talking to the Knicks about a big man. We know that the Knicks are trying to jettison Zach Randolph, but at almost $15 million this season and 3 years left on his contract, he may be too much money for the Cavs who already committed to a big salary to Mo Williams and are balking at giving Delonte $5 million. I'm not sure who else the Knicks would want to give up that the Cavs would want. Personally, I would love to have David Lee. I love his hustle, but the Knicks would be pretty dumb to give him up. If, as I suspect, the Knicks are trying to sever all ties with Isiah Thomas and the team he built, they may consider it.
There is a lot of talk about Ricky Rubio. He has been impressive in the Olympics, in spite of his team's trouncing by Team USA. Many expect Rubio to be a top 5 pick in next year's draft. He is also being compared by some to Pete Maravich because of his style of play. In my opinion he has a long, long way to go to be anywhere near Pistol Pete. Pete was one of a kind and I don't see anyone, including Rubio, coming close to his abilities any time soon.
There's chaos atop the Great Wall of China, and it's all Dwyane Wade's fault. Well, maybe not all his fault. But the Heat's international superstar is among the more impatient in his group as a painfully slow line for the final segment of the tour — a dicey toboggan ride that certainly wouldn't pass Disney safety standards — is threatening to turn a once-in-a-lifetime afternoon into a near-torturous experience.
Wade tries a diversion tactic to slip his way to the front of the pack.
"Look, it's Kobe!"
No dice. Not even a mention of China's adopted basketball hero Kobe Bryant could budge this pack.
It's hopeless. Unless, of course, the trusty celebrity card works at this high an altitude.
Has it ever failed? Within moments, Wade and his entire crew, which includes fellow Team USA members Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets and Deron Williams of the Utah Jazz, are being ushered to the side entrance. Apparently even the Mutianyu portion of the Great Wall has a VIP section.
The troop of nearly 20 has to avoid incoming chairlifts, trust rickety equipment and withstand pushy employees who are trying to get this covert operation completed as quickly as possible.
Only, there's no way to keep it a secret, so the crowd that was once begging for pictures with Wade is now actually booing him. Kind of loudly.
Wade tries to diffuse the situation by doing his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impression — "Do it now! Get in the chopper!" — until finally a petrified publicist, Lisa Joseph, kicks off the Great exodus by screaming her way down the mountain.
It's a priceless Olympic moment for Wade, who is actually enjoying these Games — the second for the 26-year-old — and enjoying a personal renaissance following a tumultuous last 18 months..... Back at the bottom, autograph and photo seekers appear to be multiplying, but it doesn't keep Wade from bartering for better prices on a Chinese peasant hat and an "I climbed the Great Wall" T-shirt.
Wade's celebrity gets him no special treatment down here, where people making a living pleading for fair prices from tourists. Not even from an older woman trying to sell him a bottle of Gatorade with Wade's likeness on the bottle.
"Hey, that's me," he says, sounding very much like his fans on the Wall when they first saw him.
Then his tone changes when the woman quotes him a price: 10 yuan.
"For a Gatorade? This is me on this. I can get this."
He can also afford it. So 10 yuan it is (about $1.53).
Reminds me of Larry Bird talking about his Olympic experience in his book. He would sneak out of the hotel and go to cheer for the USA baseball team. He just fit in with the crowd and was one of the guy's and had the time of his life. He also balked at paying what they asked for a beer there. Larry was always the frugal one.
The long awaited announcement of Oklahoma City's team nickname, colors and logos is expected before the end of the month. The team doesn't want to officially introduce their new players at a press conference until it has jerseys for each player to hold up so none of the players they have acquired in trades, Desmond Mason, Joe Smith and Kyle Weaver, have been introduced in a press conference yet. It is all but certain that their nickname will be the Thunder as it has slipped several times, but the colors and uniforms have been kept under wraps until the official unveiling.
Starting today, the Timberwolves will have nine of their top players, including Al Jefferson, Sebastian Telfair, Kevin Love, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Corey Brewer, Chris Richard and Mike Miller, all working out every day at Target Center. They will be around until Labor Day, take 10 days off, then resume workouts out until training camp opens. The Wolves haven't decided whether to sign free agent Kirk Snyder but it seems unlikely that they will bring him back at this time. This is the kind of work ethic and enthusiasm that the Celtics had last season and part of what won the title. I think that is one of the hurdles to repeating as champions. Teams don't have the drive and the urgency once they get that ring. I would love to see them all back in Boston and working out. Big Baby has been there all summer so far. Rondo is going to be there this week, as will rookie JR Giddens. Bill Walker, although not signed as yet, has been there all summer. Hopefully the other players will be in town soon and will get serious about trying to repeat as champs.
Team USA completed preliminary play by soundly beat Germany 106-57 this morning. They have won each of their games by an average of over 32 points. LeBron James had a monster dunk over Chris Kaman that had to have rocked the stadium and he finished with 18 points. Dwight Howard led Team USA with 22 points and 10 rebounds. On hand to return the support that the US Men's team showed him by cheering him on to his 8th gold was Michael Phelps who was cheering and having fun watching the game.
Kobe Bryant mania has reached another level in China. The Herald reports that he has been virtually a shut in because everywhere he goes, he causes a near riot.
Bryant takes plenty of ribbing as a one-man Jonas Brothers sighting. USA guard Jason Kidd says he hates traveling with Bryant. USA power forward Carlos Boozer said they can’t take Bryant anywhere. “Yeah they do leave me,” Bryant said. “We go to the village and I look up and they’re nowhere to be found while I’m standing in the middle of a crowd of people.”
I guess there is no accounting for taste. It's definitely because he is the best player on the USA team, either. Maybe Kobe should consider playing in China next season instead of Italy. All those adoring young female fans has to be tempting for him.