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Dooby
10-06-2003, 01:39 PM
Don't have an account; just lifted from LMF

Where will Mutombo go?
By Chad Ford
NBA Insider
Send an Email to Chad Ford Monday, October 6
Updated: October 6
10:28 AM ET


This summer, we introduced you to Dikembe Mutombo the person.

Now meet Dikembe Mutombo the player. He's 7-foot-2. Eighty-seven years old. The four-time Defensive Player of the Year has played 12 years in the NBA. Last season, he played only 24 games. It was the first time in his career that he played fewer than 74 games. It didn't take long for Nets officials to figure out why the Sixers were in such a hurry to trade Mutombo for anything the previous summer.

Mutombo

Whispers that Mutombo was spent have been floating around the league for months. After the Nets landed Alonzo Mourning in July, the Nets started to get proactive about speeding up what looked like a long, long goodbye.

Sometime today or Tuesday, the Nets are expected to announce that Mutombo, the guy who was supposed to help the team win a championship, will be bought out. Rod Thorn is going to pay Dikembe something in the neighborhood of $27 million NOT to help his team win a championship.

Sometime around Thursday or Friday, once Mutombo clears waivers, a mob of teams (already setting up base camp at the foot of Mt. Mutombo) will begin a wild, wild race to reach the summit first.

NBA teams need size. Mutombo could be 187 and teams would still make the effort as long as he stands in the middle, blocks some shots and waves that little finger at his terrified opponents.

Who will win the race for Mutombo? Insider breaks down the top contenders. Remember, money still matters. Mutombo ate essentially $10 million in guaranteed money to get bought out. He and David Falk will be looking to recoup that money if they can.


1. Toronto Raptors (cash available -- $3.3 million of the $4.9 mid level exception)
The upside: The Raptors are thought to be the front-runner. GM Glen Grunwald has been trying to acquire Mutombo via trade all summer. Right now, the team has only two stars, Vince Carter and Antonio Davis, and both of them break down on a regular basis. Adding Mutombo's presence in the middle would be huge to their shot at the playoffs.
The downside: Even with Mutombo, this team may not be a playoff team. Remember Hakeem Olajuwon? You can't rely on centers past their prime to be the X-factor on a team. Mutombo has a better shot at winning a championship somewhere else.
2. New York Knicks (cash available -- $4 million of the $4.9 mid level exception)
The upside: The Knicks have been a big man away from contending ever since Patrick Ewing started his decline. Scott Layden has flirted with trading for Mutombo the last several years. If he could pick him up for cheap, it seems like a slam dunk. The move would give the team more flexibility to trade someone like Kurt Thomas, assuming that Antonio McDyess comes back and is healthy.
The downside: Even with Mutombo, are the Knicks really a contender? In the East, anything is possible, but if Mutombo's dead set on winning a championship, he's got better possibilities elsewhere.

3. Portland Trail Blazers (cash available -- full $4.9 million mid level exception)
The upside: With the loss of Arvydas Sabonis this summer, the Blazers are desperate for some size in the middle. They too flirted with trading for Mutombo, but were reluctant to take on the remaining two years, $37 million left on his deal. If Mutombo is truly healthy, the Blazers will, once again, be loaded with talent 1-5.
The downside: It's the Blazers. Mutombo, one of the nicest guys in the league, probably doesn't need the grief. Given the amount of talent in the West, Mutombo's still looking at a potential sixth seed in the playoffs (and a first-round ouster) even if everything does come together in Portland.

4. Dallas Mavericks (cash available -- $4.5 million of the $4.9 mid level exception)
The upside: Dallas is a team on the verge of winning a championship. Its one weakness is in the middle. The Mavs need a tough shot blocker and rebounder. Mark Cuban flirted with Zo this summer. It seems like Mutombo wouldn't be a bad consolation prize.
The downside: It's tough to think of one. Mark Cuban would pay him and he'd have a great shot at a title.

5. Phoenix Suns (cash available -- full $4.9 mid level exception)
The upside: The Suns had everyone scratching their heads when they gave away starting center Jake Tsakalidis just to clear a little cap room. Maybe they had something else up their sleeve. The team has flirted with Mutombo for years, and he would give the Suns that defensive inside presence they've always lacked. The Suns would be right in the mix with Mutombo on board
The downside: Phoenix has been trying to clear cap space. Making a move like this would cost the Suns some major cash via the luxury tax. Given that, they're a young team; do they really want to make this kind of move?

6. Philadelphia 76ers (cash available -- full $4.9 mid level exception)
The upside: The Sixers were anxious to dump Mutombo last summer. Now they appear interested in re-acquiring him. Maybe it's because the current plan has them starting Derrick Coleman in the middle. With top teams like New Jersey, Detroit and New Orleans sporting big front lines, they need the size.
The downside: Will Mutombo really want to return after the Sixers dumped him? The answer may be yes. His family still lives in Philly.

7. Indiana Pacers (cash available -- full $4.9 mid level exception)
The upside: The team lost Brad Miller this summer and looks a little thin up front. The Pacers have high hopes for Scot Pollard, but a healthy Mutombo would be an upgrade.
The downside: The team is right on the edge of the luxury tax and doesn't want to pay it. Mutombo would push the Pacers over, making it unlikely that they'll sign him.

8. Denver Nuggets (cash available -- roughly $8 million under the cap)
The upside: It would be a nice homecoming. Mutombo is a hero in Denver and the team just happens to need help in the middle. Kiki Vandeweghe is nostalgic and Mutombo could help win the hearts of a disenfranchised fan base.
The downside: Mutombo would have to kiss an NBA title goodbye. The Nuggets would be better with Mutombo, but they wouldn't be contenders.

Other teams like Memphis, Orlando, San Antonio and Miami would be in the mix if they had any money left. Their lack of cap space or a mid-level exception will probably kill their chances of landing Mutombo.


Around the League

The Nets' decision to dump Mutombo has GMs around the league scratching their heads. From a financial perspective, it makes a lot of sense. If reports are true that Mutombo ate $10 million worth of guaranteed money, that means that the Nets savings will be around $20 million because the team is a luxury-tax payer.
Given that the team is up for sale, the move may help expedite the sale of the team.

However, for a team that's very much in the hunt for a championship, the move is odd. The Nets will have no control over where Mutombo goes. If he's as healthy as they claim (some GMs seriously doubt it) Mutombo could hop across the street to a team like the Sixers and come back to haunt them in the playoffs.


Mourning

The team did have a logjam in the middle, but there are zero guarantees that Alonzo Mourning will make it through the season. His backup is Jason Collins, a decent young player, but he's nothing compared to a healthy Mutombo.

The move also didn't set well inside the locker room. Mourning, who was wooed to New Jersey with promises of a championship, thinks that bottom line is more important than a championship to Nets management.

"You understand why they made the decision," Mourning told the New York Times. "But I'm extremely disappointed because the purpose of this whole thing is to try to win again, try to get yourself in a position to win. That's the purpose of it. It goes to show you that their main objective isn't about whether this team wins a championship or not.

"The guys who are on this court - that's our concern, whether the team can win the championship or not. People in the front office, their concern is obviously making the dollar and doing what they have to do in order to make this organization attractive to somebody else that wants to buy it. If you unload some of the salary, it's going to make it look a little bit better on paper. But it's unfortunate that it had to come to something like that. It's a cold business.

"There's nothing wrong with being the biggest team in the league - nothing at all. To tell you the truth, him leaving, this definitely takes away from our depth. At the same time, we're improving possibly another team on the East Coast."


It hasn't taken long for the injury bug to take major hits on several top clubs. Over the weekend, the Sonics learned that Nick Collison was out for the year with a dislocated shoulder. The move will really hurt their depth at the four, a major problem area for the team last season.


Taylor

The Rockets got similar bad news from Mo Taylor. While the team hasn't decided whether he'll have season-ending surgery yet on his dislocated shoulder, the news is a blow. Taylor had slimmed down and was in good shape in camp. Coach Jeff Van Gundy expected him to seriously challenge third-year forward Eddie Griffin for the starting power forward role. With Taylor out at least a month, the weight now falls squarely on Griffin's shoulders.

Injuries to Jonathan Bender and Caron Butler are less serious, but hurts their chances of having the breakout seasons their teams hoped for. Bender was supposed to compete for big minutes backing up Jermaine O'Neal at the four. Now that he's out after knee surgery, expect Austin Croshere to come in and fill the void.

The Heat don't have someone to fill in right away for Butler. But his loss will definitely hurt the Heat's chances of coming out of the gate strong. Look for Lamar Odom to slide over to the three and someone like Malick Allen or Samaki Walker to take over at the four.


Speaking of injuries, Michael Dickerson may (finally) be ready to retire. Reports several weeks ago that Dickerson's retirement was imminent were premature. However, he re-injured his sports hernia last week and is, once again in a tremendous amount of pain.


Dickerson

Dickerson spent countless hours rehabbing the injury this summer and the latest injury was a huge blow. For the first time ever, his agent, Mark Bartelstein, conceded to Insider that his retirement was a possibility.

"The pain isn't the issue," Bartelstein said. "Michael can play with the pain. But the constant re-injury takes its toll mentally. You can only do this for so long."

Privately, sources inside the Grizzlies aren't optimistic. While they aren't pushing Dickerson to retire, they think that sometime this season he's likely to pull the plug. If he does, he'll immediately come off their cap.


League sources say that Mike Miller's new extension with the Grizzlies is for six years, $48 million. Lamar Odom's first-year salary in Miami? $9,963,596. Now you know why some teams felt that Pat Riley seriously overpaid for Odom.

jayC
10-06-2003, 02:21 PM
Dallas Mavericks (cash available -- $4.5 million of the $4.9 mid level exception)
The upside: Dallas is a team on the verge of winning a championship. Its one weakness is in the middle. The Mavs need a tough shot blocker and rebounder. Mark Cuban flirted with Zo this summer. It seems like Mutombo wouldn't be a bad consolation prize.
The downside: It's tough to think of one. Mark Cuban would pay him and he'd have a great shot at a title.

I agree. This team isn't a dominant center away from a title just a presence at crucial times. What would it hurt to have two guys on defense that can change the game at times. Deke and Bradley. Everyone said that ZO was coming to dallas so its not set in stone that new york will get him. And he has never won a title , everywhere he goes except here he will be counted on to be a dominant defensive force. The offseason for me changes to an A+ if we could nab him.

grbh
10-06-2003, 02:21 PM
Thanks, I was hoping someone would post this

kg_veteran
10-06-2003, 03:16 PM
4. Dallas Mavericks (cash available -- $4.5 million of the $4.9 mid level exception)
The upside: Dallas is a team on the verge of winning a championship. Its one weakness is in the middle. The Mavs need a tough shot blocker and rebounder. Mark Cuban flirted with Zo this summer. It seems like Mutombo wouldn't be a bad consolation prize.
The downside: It's tough to think of one. Mark Cuban would pay him and he'd have a great shot at a title.

It's tough to think of a downside for either Dallas or Dikembe. This is his best shot of winning a title short of signing up with the Lakers to back up Shaq.

Blonde Bomber
10-06-2003, 03:20 PM
"You understand why they made the decision," Mourning told the New York Times. "But I'm extremely disappointed because the purpose of this whole thing is to try to win again, try to get yourself in a position to win. That's the purpose of it. It goes to show you that their main objective isn't about whether this team wins a championship or not.

"The guys who are on this court - that's our concern, whether the team can win the championship or not. People in the front office, their concern is obviously making the dollar and doing what they have to do in order to make this organization attractive to somebody else that wants to buy it. If you unload some of the salary, it's going to make it look a little bit better on paper. But it's unfortunate that it had to come to something like that. It's a cold business.

"There's nothing wrong with being the biggest team in the league - nothing at all. To tell you the truth, him leaving, this definitely takes away from our depth. At the same time, we're improving possibly another team on the East Coast."



These quotes from Mourning really crack me up. It sounds like those are quotes from back when he was with the Heat. I'm wondering if he's regretting now that he didn't decide to come to the Mavs.
Ohh well...his loss. Hopefully hell be happy with a team that looks at the bottom line of making money and not putting a team in the best position to go for a championship....not.

kg_veteran
10-06-2003, 03:23 PM
Mourning already has Martin bitching too. I enjoy the fact that Mourning is already turning into a cancer without having ever played a game for the Nets. Of course, it's likely that he'll STILL be a cancer that hasn't played a game for the team in May.

dirno2000
10-06-2003, 03:35 PM
Unbelievable. Where does he get off questioning the commitment of the organization when they just game him (the biggest question mark in free agency) a 4-year deal? Hes sorrier than I thought.

MFFL
10-07-2003, 01:12 PM
Originally posted by: dirno2000
Unbelievable. Where does he get off questioning the commitment of the organization when they just game him (the biggest question mark in free agency) a 4-year deal? Hes sorrier than I thought.

Maybe he just wanted to avoid playing Mutombo? Mourning doesn't seem to relish playing against good opponents.