Thursday, July 3, 2014
Behind The Scoreboard
More NBA, plus tennis and soccer
It seems harder and harder to wipe away the last vestiges of the just completed NBA season and make way for some of the more current and prevailing events. If you recall, this column usually leaps right into the trials at Wimbledon but this year there has been the distraction of the World Cup (of soccer). The tournament has completely dominated the sports world and has not garnered this type of devotion since Pele joined North American Soccer years ago. One could write a book trying to report all the news generated from around the world since the competition started.
Of course, heretofore yours truly’s interest was channeled into the tennis genre because of the Williams sisters. This year their run was derailed in the first full week of competition. First, Venus lost to Petra Ktovic and then Serena failed to defend her 2013 title against Aliza Cornet of France. From my chair there appeared to be a lack of that old fire of determination on both of the Williams’ parts. Venus looked a bit peaked and Serena looked completely healthy but disinterested. Could the Williams’ tennis star finally declined past recovery?
Before we get to the meat of this “Scoreboard,” we need to catch up with the coaching carousel as it seems to have stopped spinning as rapidly as it once was. Steve Kerr agreed to coach the Golden State Warriors in the coming year. There are still some questions about the release of Mark Jackson, who had done more with the franchise than anyone else in the past two seasons.
David Platt, a lesser known name around the circuit, will lead the Cleveland Cavaliers this coming season and Flip Saunders, who has been around awhile, was picked for the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Los Angeles Lakers have not settled on a new mentor yet (probably waiting for Kobe’s approval) and will rely on assistants John Davis and Kurt Rambis at the moment.
You know we speculated on just how many more years would Derek Fisher wear a player’s uniform and now the question is answered. Fisher was contracted to the New York Knicks a few weeks ago. Personally, I think after he passes the coach’s “learning curve,” he will be good. Fisher becomes the third most recent, or lately active, player to grab the coach’s mantle.
And it looked at the time of this writing that coach Jason Kidd might leave Brooklyn after one year and pack his bags for Milwaukee.
Call it “piggybacking” on the current FIFA if you will but there will be a FIBA World Cup this year also. And it has reached the highest level in one country. The Philippines National team, Gilas Filipinas, coached by Chet Reyes, has made a deal to bring a cadre of NBA players to play pick-up games with his team prior to the World Cup. Paul Pierce, Blake Griffin, Damian Lillard and DeMar Rozen agreed to be the beacons, shall we say. Philippines President Benigno Aquino rushed through a law to make 6’11” Andrey Blatche a citizen. Blatche put up big numbers for the Nets this past season.
Now comes the beef. LeBron James opted out of his contract with the Heat and started the domino effect. Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade opted out on the same day. Udonis Haslem, in the words of Pat Riley, chose not to “opt in.” All became free agents. Wade has been with Miami for over a decade and Haslem one year longer. The president praised all the players and said Wade has been the virtual cornerstone of the franchise. He went on to say that he hoped Wade would be a part of the organization long after he hangs up his Nikes. Riley dubbed Bosh as being both versatile and dynamic and a solid instrument of the success of their post-season runs.
Riley didn’t give a time frame for any negotiations but said the hierarchy looked forward to sitting down and talking to all the players and their agents. President Riley concluded by stating that the franchise was definitely interested in retaining all those players who had opted for free agency.
There was no mention of future salaries for the Big Three but word leaked that the King is looking for a deal which would bring him $26 mil per annum for the next five years. Wade purportedly is seeking a $19 mil a year pact and Bosh is thinking of asking for $16-17 mil. There was no figure for Haslem.
What do you think, dear readers, is the glue of this nucleus going to be defined by dollar signs?
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