Back from a few much needed days off. The schedule was released and the Celtics will raise banner #17 to the rafters along with getting their rings on October 28 with LeBron James looking on. Talk about giving LeBron incentive. He has to stand there and watch the Celtics getting their rings while he knows that with a little help he could be getting a ring as well. The Cavs have until 2010 to improve and give LeBron that shot at a ring or he could be going elsewhere. We all have watched with interest the teams such as the Knicks and Nets clearing cap space for the summer of 2010 to make a run at the LeBron sweepstakes. The Cavs have let it be known that they won't let him go without a fight as well. Now, it may all be for nothing as a couple of European teams have contacted James with possible offers of $50 million a year or more. And, LeBron has said that he would consider going to Europe for that kind of money. He could play a year or two and then come back to the US and sign with a contender since money won't be an issue any longer. Something interesting to watch, for sure. Whatever LeBron decides to do, there will be several teams with a lot of cap room to make a splash on the free agent market.
Not only is LeBron talking Europe but now, Kobe Bryant has said that he would probably leave the NBA to play in Italy if they offered him in the area of $50 million a year. Kobe spent a large part of his childhood growing up in Italy while his father played professional basketball there and speaks fluent Italian. In 1999, he also acquired a 50 percent ownership of the Olimpia Milano of the Italian Professional Basketball League. Does that mean that he could offer himself a contract? Anyway, he would love to play in Italy and no NBA team could match that kind of money. Kobe has the rings and so it may be about the money and a new challenge at that point. He proved last off season that he doesn't have much loyalty to the Lakers organization so if he gets an offer from an Italian team he may just go. Besides the basketball, there is a whole new country of women for him to go after who may not have heard about his sordid past in the US.
The signings have slowed down, but the Clippers are still at it as they acquired Steve Novak, a forward who will give them some perimeter scoring, in a deal with the Houston Rockets. In return, the Rockets will have the option to exchange second-round picks with the Clippers in the 2011 NBA draft. Don't you love all these teams getting players for next to nothing? Must be nice to have all that cap space. The Clippers also signed free agent point guard Jason Williams on Thursday. He joins former Heat teammate, Ricky Davis, on the team. There had been some rumors that the Celtics were looking at Williams before House was re-signed. The Clippers had been looking to re-sign Shaun Livingston but the Williams signing closes the door on that. Livingston is an intriguing point guard at 6'7" but still hasn't been cleared for basketball after the knee injury he suffered last season. This gives the Clippers 10 new players for the upcoming season and 14 total under contract. The Celtics started last season with 9 new players and they didn't have any chemistry problems, but then again, they had Kevin Garnett and just the right mix of players. The question for the Clippers may be which Ricky Davis shows up. You also have to question how much 2 players from a roster that produced 15 wins will help.
At a time where head coaches often don't last more than one season, it is simply amazing that Jerry Sloan is about to celebrate 20 years as head coach of the Utah Jazz. The Dec. 9 anniversary game for the longest-tenured coach in American pro sport will be played against the Timberwolves in Minnesota. Sloan will begin the season with 995 victories as the Jazz head coach. No coach in NBA history has won 1,000 games with one team and Sloan can make history as he will definitely eclipse that mark early in this season.
The NBA’s Web site all but confirmed Thunder would be the nickname of Oklahoma City’s NBA team when they released the schedule on Wednesday morning. At first, NBA.com linked to a page that listed the “Oklahoma City Thunder schedule” but by Wednesday afternoon, all mentions of Thunder were removed. Now that the cat's out of the bag, it's about time they make the announcement and make it official.
Allan Houston is planning to make another comeback attempt and it is possible that he could get a second try with the Knicks. The 37-year-old Houston told Newsday Tuesday that his agent has been in touch with a few teams and is in preliminary discussions about a training camp tryout. Houston tried to make a comeback last pre-season when he showed at Knicks training camp, but lasted only a week. Houston played 6 minutes of garbage time in a preseason game against the Celtics but put an end to his comeback shortly thereafter.
The Heat signed Denver Nuggets' free agent Yakhouba Diawara. He will give them some experience and scoring from the wing. The Cavs have signed former Grizzlies' guard Terrance Kinsey to give them backcourt depth. They still haven't come to terms with Delonte West. It may come down to Delonte accepting the qualifying offer and becoming an unrestricted free agent next year. I'd really love to have him back with the Celtics for both his toughness and play and his sense of humor. Who can forget the Wire Hanger or the Valentine's Day bits? I miss Delonte.
The Lakers and Chinese point guard Sun Yue have agreed to terms on a two-season contract, the team confirmed Thursday. Sun is known as the Chinese Magic Johnson because of his eye-catching playmaking ability and will face his future teammate Kobe Bryant when China plays the United States on Sunday in Team USA's opening game. Sun will compete with starting point guard Derek Fisher and backup PG Jordan Farmar for playing time and can also play some shooting guard.
Reports are that the Bucks have reached a verbal agreement with former Spurs and Sonics' free agent center, Francisco Elson. If they do sign him, he will give the Bucks good depth behind Andrew Bogut at the center position. Some early reports had him headed for Boston, but you wonder how that would work out after Elson called KG gay when he was a rookie with the Nuggets.
Word is that the Spurs are one of three teams believed to have offered Pargo a deal that would start at $2 million next season. The other teams in the Pargo sweepstakes remain unclear, though it is presumed the Denver Nuggets might be one of them. The Hornets appear willing to let him go and aren't reported to be in the mix for Pargo's services. He is instant offense off the bench and a very good 3 point shooter and would replace what they lost in Brent Barry when he went to the Rockets.
I would say that the Heat desperately need help at the point guard spot since after Jason Williams signed with the Clippers, Marcus Banks is their only PG. The Suns thought that he would be the answer to back up Steve Nash and passed on Rajon Rondo because of it. They soon found out that his speed isn't everything. If he would ever get the right attitude, he would be a decent point guard, but so far, he still hasn't gotten his head straight. With Williams gone and Banks as the only PG, it could open the door for a return by restricted free agent Chris Quinn, who finished last season as the Heat's starting point guard.
Of course, much of the buzz these next couple of weeks will be about the Olympics as Team USA finally has the chance to redeem themselves and bring home the gold. Games start on Sunday when they face China. The game will be televised at 10:15 am on NBC tv. The women tip off on Saturday as they face the Czech republic. Go USA!!!