With the ACL injury to Jason Smith, the Sixers will be looking for someone to fill in as a back up center and power forward since his season is pretty much over before it starts. The Sixers can offer just a minimum contract and word is that former Sixer (and Celtic) Theo Ratliff is high on their list to contact. Ratliff played in only 2 games in his year with the Celtics and he and his expiring contract were sent to Minnesota in the deal that brought KG to the Celtics. The Wolves cut him and he finished the season with Detroit. The Sixers were also interested in Francisco Elson but apparently he is heading for Milwaukee.
A day after telling the Boston Globe he would consider a $50 million contract in Italy, Kobe told Yahoo Sports that he will not sign a contract extension with the Lakers before testing international waters. Bryant is signed through 2011 but can opt after next season. I really don't like Kobe Bryant and every season he gives me more not to like. First there was the rape charge. Then, last season there was the circus of him demanding out of LA. Now, he is going to try to hold them hostage again with a threat to play in Italy. All season he was talking about how his teammates were like brothers after he threw them all under the bus in the off season. Now, he is willing to leave them hanging if he gets enough money in Europe. Kobe has always been greedy. When the NBA voted to add the individual player maximums that came in with the 1999 collective bargaining agreement, Kobe was the only player who voted against it. Before then, teams could re-sign their own free agents to any amount under the "Larry Bird" exception. Afterward they were limited to a percentage of the salary cap. Many of the league's stars think about their teams and helping them to build a championship team. Look at Arenas. As much as I don't like him, he took less to help his team. Shaq did the same. Pierce stuck with a team that looked like it was going nowhere out of loyalty. Kobe has been all too willing to trash anyone in his way to accomplish his own agenda. Honestly, I hope he does go and then we won't have to see all those sappy bits trying to portray him as the perfect family man during every game.
Manu Ginobili and Argentina lost their opener in Olympic play 79-75 to Linas Kleiza and Lithuania. Spain with Pau and Marc Gasol and Rudy Fernandez beat Greece 81-66 in opening play. Dirk Nowitski had 23 points and Chris Kaman had 24 as they led Germany to a 95-66 victory over Angola. I don't understand Kaman playing for Germany. He is a US citizen but because Dirk was able to get him a German passport, he is playing for Germany. I always thought you had to have more ties to a country than a passport to play for them in the Olympics. He had never been to Germany before agreeing to play for their Olympic team. Talk about bringing in a ringer.
The USA women's team opened Olympic play with a 97-57 win over the Czech Republic. When I watched a part of the game, it looked like a layup drill for team USA. They also played pressure defense that would make Tom Thibodeau proud. President Bush was on hand to watch the US team win. Men tip off vs host team China at approximately 10:15 eastern time Sunday.
The New Orleans Hornets have reportedly reached an agreement with reserve forward Ryan Bowen for a one year contract to bring him back for the 2008-09 season. Bowen will back up David West at the power forward spot. The Hornets have made it clear that they aren't interested in bringing back Jannero Pargo for what he is currently asking, but they are still considering making an offer to Bonzi Wells, although they haven't yet made him an offer.
After making an offer to Josh Smith and losing out on him, the Grizzlies now have renounced their rights to free agents Casey Jacobsen and Andre Brown. Jacobsen is a 6-6 guard who has averaged 5.2 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in his career playing with Phoenix, New Orleans and Memphis. Brown is a 6-9 forward who averaged 2.7 points and 2.3 rebounds over 2 seasons with the Grizzlies. A renounced player no longer counts toward team salary, so teams use renouncement to gain cap room. After renouncing a player, the team is still permitted to re-sign them, but the team must either have enough salary cap room to fit the salary or sign them to a minimum salary. A team can still trade a renounced player in a sign-and-trade agreement. I wonder if they are fixing to make an offer to either Ben Gordon or Andre Iguodala. There is speculation that they might look to take Zach Randolph off the Knicks' hands. Memphis has Marc Gasol and Darko, but neither are legit low-post scorers like Randolph can be when he is motivated. Keep an eye on Memphis because they are the only team with significant cap space and it appears they are preparing for a big move.
With European teams making advances toward the NBA's stars and offering obscene salaries that no NBA can match because they are hampered by a salary cap that European teams don't have to abide by, there have been questions whether the NBA will do away with the salary cap to allow teams to match these offers for their stars. David Stern says there is no way they will do away with the cap.
So what about eliminating the cap? The source said there was "no chance." "We're paying out 57 percent of gross revenue right now, over $2 billion [per] year in salaries and a majority of our teams are losing money," the source said. "There will always be a star player or two who can get picked off, but no other league in the world can even pay a fraction of the amount in total salaries."
There have also been rumblings about the NBA expanding to Europe and sources say that the possibility of the NBA in Europe is becoming increasingly realistic. Count me as skeptical. Travel would be a nightmare. NBA players are exhausted after an 82 game schedule now, imagine how they will feel if they have to add a few transatlantic flights to their schedule. I don't see it.
Now that the Hawks have the Josh Smith contract saga completed with some help from the Grizzlies, they are looking to complete their roster. Two possibilities that have been mentioned are Jannero Pargo and Shaun Livingston. Livingston is a very intriguing player. He is still rehabbing from his knee injury and hasn't been cleared for any real basketball activities, but if he can play, he has the potential to be something special. One player they aren't interested in bringing back is Salim Stoudamire, who is considering options elsewhere. The Hawks were also interested in Francisco Elson, but as stated above, he is apparently headed for the Bucks.
Earl Boykins, the league's shortest player at 5'5" has signed a $3.5 million contract with Virtus Bologna of the Italian League. He will the highest-paid player in Italy next season. He is the highest player in Italy, that is, until Kobe gets there. It is reported that he also will participate in the sponsorship and marketing income of the team, options forbidden in the NBA by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. This is the option that may get the attention of the big stars like Kobe and LeBron who are considering the leap to Europe for the big bucks.
Ending on an upbeat Celtics' note. Celtics new center Patrick O'Bryant who was drafted ninth overall two years ago but has fallen well shy of expectations, has been spending a lot of time working out with assistant coach Clifford Ray at the team's Waltham practice facility. Dwight Howard gives credit to Ray for his game as did Celtics legend Robert Parish. If anyone can bring out this kid's potential, it is Clifford Ray.
"Kobe has always been greedy. When the NBA voted to add the individual player maximums that came in with the 1999 collective bargaining agreement, Kobe was the only player who voted against it. Before then, teams could re-sign their own free agents to any amount under the "Larry Bird" exception. Afterward they were limited to a percentage of the salary cap. Many of the league's stars think about their teams and helping them to build a championship team. Look at Arenas. As much as I don't like him, he took less to help his team. Shaq did the same."
Shaq "did the same" in Miami. He wasn't willing to take a paycut in LA. That -- as much as anything -- contributed to his departure from the Lakers. Don't you remember him yelling "pay me!" to Jerry Buss at a preseason game in 2003?