Leading off today's rumors with a rather bizarre photo of the Spanish National team. In it, they are all pulling at the sides of their eyes in a slit-eyed gesture. This could lead to accusations of racism and some controversy that will mar the Olympics for them. However you look at it, it isn't very cool. (Hat tip to TrueHoop)
The Phoenix Suns are still in the hunt for a point guard to back up Steve Nash. Since passing Rajon Rondo on to the Celtics, they haven't been very successful in their search for Nash's backup. Marcus Banks obviously didn't work out. They were hoping that Slovenian guard Goran Dragic would be the answer and have been holding out hope that he would agree to play for them this season. But, word is that Dragic is planning to stay in Europe and finish out his contract there. In order to entice him to the NBA this season, they would have to give him a contract much higher than the minimum in order to pay for his $1.5 million buyout and that would put the Suns over the luxury tax level which they are trying to avoid. There are a few point guards left on the free agent market including Sam Cassell, Flip Murray, Dan Dickau, Darrell Armstrong, Jannero Pargo, Shaun Livingston, and Damon Stoudamire. How they must be wishing they had never let Rondo go to the Celtics.
The Detroit Pistons re-signed 6'9" forward Walter Herrmann on Monday. Herrmann played six seasons in his native Argentina and four seasons in Spain before being signed as an undrafted free agent by Charlotte. He played in 28 games for the Pistons last season averaging 3 points and 1.3 rebounds in 7.1 minutes per game.
Oklahoma City (formerly known as the Seattle Supersonics and soon to be named the Thunder) traded New Jersey's 2009 second round pick to the Charlotte Bobcats for 6'6" rookie guard Kyle Weaver out of Washington State.
With Josh Smith safely back in the fold, the Hawks are making moves to fill out their roster and have signed Othello Hunter and Thomas Gardner. Both Hunter and Gardner played on Atlanta's summer league team at the Rocky Mountain Revue and made an impression that earned them another look with the team. Hunter is a rookie power forward out of Ohio State who played in the national title game with Greg Oden and Mike Conley. Gardner is a 6'5" guard Gardner out of Missouri, and has a reputation as a scorer.
We reported last week that the Lakers have signed the Sun Yue, known as "The Chinese Magic Johnson," to a contract. It would appear that his height of 6'9" has more to do with this nickname than his play. a veteran NBA executive, who has scouted hundreds of players both internationally and in the United States has this to say about him:
“He has a nice feel for the game (and) he’s a decent passer, with good size. However, he lacks quickness and toughness and doesn’t shoot the ball well, with range. He is a below-average athlete.”
According to this NBA source, Sun is not a NBA-caliber player at this juncture and would not figure to be much of a factor with the Lakers this season, if he were to make the team. The Lakers plan to move him from point guard to shooting guard where he will compete with Coby Karl, Dwayne Mitchell and Joe Crawford for minutes off the bench at that position.
The speculation has begun as to how the Jazz can resign both Carlos Boozer and Mehmet Okur and still keep Andrei Kirilenko and still stay below the luxury tax threshold as they seem determined to do. The answer appears to be that they can't and Kirilenko appears to be the odd man out. AK47 may be hard to trade though because he has three years and $49.35 million remaining on his contract with the Jazz. Next season, not many teams will want to take a contract that will put them on the hook for $17.82 million in 2010-11 as everyone seems to want to clear cap space for the big free agent class that off season. Boozer and Okur can both opt out of their contracts next year and may do so, not necessarily to leave the Jazz but to get a bigger payday. I don't like Kirilenko for the Celtics. He has complained a lot about his role in the offense and I don't see him as a candidate for ubuntu.
Speaking of Kirilenko, he scored a team-high 18 points to lead four in double figures for Russia, but his team dropped its first Olympics pool game Tuesday to undefeated Croatia, 85-78. Russia, now 1-1, next faces Australia on Thursday. Spain with its many NBA stars topped Yao and the Spanish team in an 85-75 overtime thriller. This morning, Team USA played Angola and after allowing them to stay fairly close in the first half, they pulled away to win 97-76 to go 2-0 in group play. Next for Team USA: A grudge match with Greece on Thursday morning.
Alan Houston is still working on his comeback and would like to return to the Knicks but I am sure he would take a contract with any other team that offers him one if the Knicks don't. Isn't he Danny's kind of player? Retired and looking for a comeback? Houston played in the Nike Pro City league at Hunter and apparently held his own. He put up 25 points in a loss to Ron Artest's squad and showed some flashes of his previous form, according to the report.
The Olympics are just four days old, but the best quote of the Games has already been uttered, and there is a 0.000000 chance that it will be topped. This from colleague Michael Abramowitz's Style Section story about the Bush Fam this morning.
Meeting Team USA with Bush 43 before the game, Bush 41 gave a warm hug to Lakers star Kobe Bryant and received an affectionate greeting from Cavaliers hero LeBron James: "What's up, pops?" the massive James asked. One way for a 23-year old pro basketball player to greet a former President might be "Hello, Mr. President." Another might be "What's up, pops." I'm done making fun of LeBron for the crying and the scowling and the wide-eyed disbelief. Anyone who breaks out the "What's up pops?" line is ok by me.
The Cavs' puzzling unwillingness to sign Delonte West to a new deal continues. He is their starting point guard and is looking for a multi-year deal that would be better than the five-year $21 million deal that their back up point guard got. It seems reasonable that the starter should get more than the back up, but apparently not to the Cavs. There have been rumors that the Cavs are looking to do a sign and trade with the Bucks for Mo Williams and this makes sense for the Cavs because it would give them an established point rather than one still developing. But, it doesn't make much sense for the Bucks are are obviously in win now mode with the trade for Richard Jefferson as they try to add stars around their star, Michael Redd, to try to find some of the luck the Celtics had with this strategy. Delonte is leaning toward taking the one-year, $2.8 million qualifying offer and become an unrestricted free agent next summer. If he does, the Cavs could not trade him without his consent and he'd have a year to establish his value and make himself more valuable on the free agent market next off season. I really wouldn't mind having Delonte back in Boston. He is a tough gritty player who leaves it all on the court.